In an opinion yesterday, Judge Ramos ruled that a real estate broker could not recover a commission because the agreement was not in writing as required by the Statute of Frauds (under New Jersey law).
The broker tried to rely on a series of text exchanges, but Judge Ramos found that texts would suffice only if the client had written his name or otherwise “signed” the texts in some way:
Bosque alleges that he and LaFrieda reached a written, binding fee agreement on March 23, 2016 as reflected in the following exchange:
Text from Bosque: I’m giving you a fee agreement for $550.. before you get contract I’m not stupid. $500 I earned $50 you owe me for the deal!
Text from LaFrieda: Beat it. 500k. You owe me.
Text from Bosque: Ok don’t drive me crazy….
The Statute of Frauds requires Bosque to prove that LaFrieda signed the text messages. An electronic record can be considered an adequate writing but only if it is signed. Here, however, Bosque merely defines an electronic signature as “an electronic process” but does not point to any text message signed by LaFrieda. Accordingly, Bosque fails to establish a crucial element under the Statute of Frauds and did not have a valid commission contract.