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BLOG / 10.10.17 /Jack Malley

Hon. Sylvia G. Ash Enforces Purchase Contract Executed by Attorney Only

In Yerushalmi Holdings, LLC v. Olumo Real Estate Corp., 2017 Slip Op. 30855(U) (Kings Cty. Sup. Ct.), Kings County Supreme Court recently enforced a contract signed by a party’s attorney that contained un-initialed handwritten changes.

Justice Sylvia G. Ash, J.S.C. of Kings County Supreme Court, Commercial Division granted the Plaintiff-purchaser’s motion for summary judgment on its claim for specific performance of a contract for the sale of real property. Justice Ash held that the contract of sale was valid even though it was signed on behalf of the Plaintiff by Plaintiff’s counsel. Justice Ash found the contract enforceable where there was no “no dispute that [Plaintiff’s counsel] signed the contract of behalf of Plaintiff…and that [he] was granted such authority by Plaintiff.” Thus, the contract was enforceable “as a matter of law,” and no further factual investigation of the circumstances was required.

Judge Ash also held the handwritten changes to the contract of sale were enforceable as a matter of law, even though they were not initialed. The Court held that “Defendants’ contention to the contrary [was] not supported by any evidence.” The Defendants alleged that they notified their attorney to cancel the contract upon receipt of the handwritten changes, but that claim was contradicted by their attorney’s testimony that she deposited the down payment and that her understanding was that the contract was not terminated.

The Yerushalmi decision sends a clear message to purchasers and sellers of real estate that they will be bound by the actions and omissions of their attorneys if their attorneys have been granted authority to act on their behalf.