November 20, 2018
No Contract Formed At FSU Tailgate Party
A Florida court recently considered whether a party, on behalf of Florida Power & Light (“FPL”), entered into a brokerage contract at a tailgate party. FPL’s senior project director of development (“Director”) allegedly attended a tailgate party before the Florida State Seminoles and Virginia Tech Hokies game. A person attending the game (“Claimant”) allegedly spoke to the Director and asked if he could receive a real estate commission for introducing him to a property for a power plant. The Director allegedly responded “ok” and they allegedly shook hands. The Claimant then divulged the property’s location. The Claimant allegedly made a number of calls to the Director but after a few calls they stopped communicating and the Claimant made no efforts to memorialize or follow through with an agreement. FPL allegedly eventually purchased the property that the Claimant identified. FPL did not pay the Claimant a commission. The Claimant sued FPL. A jury ruled in the Claimant’s favor. On appeal, the appellate court stated that “Simply put, [the Claimant] failed to establish the first element of both actual and apparent authority” and “it was not reasonable to assume [the Director] had the authority to bind FPL, and the circumstances surrounding the purported agreement lend no credibility to the reasonableness of assuming his authority.” Furthermore, the court found that “FPL undertook no action after the purported agreement to ratify the agreement or [the Director’s] authority to act on its behalf. "There was no formal act by" FPL, or even an informal act by FPL, "which would denote the holding out of [the Director] as possessing the authority to act on its behalf." The Court reversed and directed a verdict in FPL’s favor.