The Iowa Supreme Court has waded into a bitter battle over money from the sale of a bar in Charles City. Seven years ago Jeffrey Sisson decided to sell his sports bar and restaurant in Charles City. He asked Larry Stewart, a real estate broker in Charles City, to help him find a buyer, but Sisson asked the agent not to put the bar on a publicized list of property for sale because Sisson feared his bar would lose business.
Sisson verbally promised Stewart a 10 percent commission if he found a buyer, but they never signed a contract. The real estate agent lined up a potential buyer and Stewart — the bar owner — negotiated the sale with that buyer himself. When the agent found out the deal was done, he asked for his 10 percent commission, but the bar owner refused to pay.
Two lower courts ruled the agent was out of luck because no “listing agreement” or contract had been signed, but the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that the deal the two men struck was a “brokerage agreement” instead and a lower court must hear the case.
In their ruling, the justices said “fairness dictates” that the two men fighting over the bar sale be given an opportunity to “reframe” their arguments because the Supreme Court changes the legal grounds on which this fight must now be decided.