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Mosley v. Triangle Townhouses, LLC

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

July 28, 2015

HAROLD MOSLEY, APPELLANT
v.
TRIANGLE TOWNHOUSES, LLC, APPELLEE

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: OKTIBBEHA COUNTY CHANCERY COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/19/2014. TRIAL JUDGE: HON.H.J. DAVIDSON JR. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: DISMISSED COMPLAINT FOR SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE.

AFFIRMED.

FOR APPELLANT: DEWITT T. HICKS JR., P. NELSON SMITH.

FOR APPELLEE: CHARLES E. WINFIELD, ASHLYN BROWN MATTHEWS.

BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., ISHEE AND MAXWELL, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, CARLTON, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR. WILSON, J., NOT PARTICIPATING.

OPINION

MAXWELL, J.

[¶1] It has been said: " [E]quity must follow the law. But where the law provides no remedy, equity may do so." [1] To that we would add: Since " equity must follow the law," where the law prohibits a remedy, equity may not do so.

[¶2] Here, Harold Mosley asked equity to do what Mississippi law prohibits--pay him, a nonlicensed real estate broker, a real estate broker's commission.[2] But the equitable powers of the chancery court cannot be used to circumvent public policy. Because Mississippi has a clear public policy that only licensed real estate brokers can render and be paid for broker services, the chancery court rightly dismissed Mosley's equitable claim for a " finder's fee" for

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seeking out and finding a buyer for Triangle Townhouses, LLC's real property.

Background Facts and Procedural History

[¶3] In September 2013, Mosley sued Triangle Townhouses for specific performance of an alleged promise to pay Mosley " a fair and equitable finder's fee if he found a buyer" for Triangle Townhouses' apartment complex. According to Mosley's complaint, he found such a buyer--CK Realty, LLC. And prior to the deal closing, Triangle Townhouses reassured Mosley it would " take care of him." But after CK Realty purchased Triangle Townhouses' property for $6,000,000, Triangle Townhouses never paid the promised " finder's fee," despite Mosley's repeated requests.

[¶4] In his complaint, Mosley noted the " standard real estate commission would be 6% to 10%" of the purchase price. Mosley, as a non-real estate broker, asked for a more modest " finder's fee . . . worth 3% to 5% of the purchase price" --or whatever amount the court " deem[ed] appropriate based on quantum meruit and the promises made that induced the closing of the transaction."

[¶5] Triangle Townhouses responded with a motion to dismiss. See M.R.C.P. 12(b)(6). Triangle Townhouses asserted Mosley had failed to state a claim because Mississippi law expressly prohibits anyone without a real estate broker's license to file an action to recover a real estate ...


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