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ROBERTS v. KARIMI

June 4, 2002

TODD M. ROBERTS, PLAINTIFF,
V.
DR. MAHMOOD KARIMI AND JOHANNA KARIMI, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur D. Spatt, United States District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

This action arises out of a claim by the plaintiff Todd M. Roberts ("Roberts" or the "plaintiff") against the defendants Dr. Mahmood Karimi ("M. Karimi") and Johanna Karimi ("J. Karimi") (collectively, the "defendants") alleging that the defendants breached a contract to sell their home to him. Also, the plaintiff asserts a claim for promissory estoppel on the ground that he detrimentally relied upon the defendants' promise to sell their home to him. Presently before the Court is a motion for summary judgment by the defendants to dismiss the claim for promissory estoppel.
I. BACKGROUND
A. The Facts
The following facts are not disputed. In the Spring of 1997, the plaintiff contacted Deborah Foglia ("Foglia"), a real estate agent employed by the defendants, to set up a tour of the defendants' vacation home at 79 Dune Road in East Quogue, New York. After a tour, the plaintiff negotiated to purchase the home through Foglia as intermediary. The plaintiff never spoke with the defendants.
On or about May 27, 1997, Foglia prepared a memorandum of sale (the "Memorandum") which reflected, among other things, that the home was sold for $610,000, subject to some minor conditions. In particular, the Memorandum contained the names and addresses of the plaintiff, the defendants and their attorneys; the address of the property; the sale price; a closing to be held "ASAP"; and a listing of the conditions of the sale as "home inspection-termite, owner will hold $200,000 mortgage for 5 years, rental will be prorated at closing." At the bottom of the Memorandum, Foglia signed her name under the line marked "Selling Agent". The defendants never signed the Memorandum.

Shortly thereafter, M. Karimi described the above sale as follows in a note to his lawyer:

Attention Mr. Munzel!

Please Note,

The house is sold as is and as is rented.

Immediately after May 27, 1997, in order to secure a tax benefit, the plaintiff designated the home at 79 Dune Road as replacement "like-kind" property under the Internal Revenue Code (the "IRC"). In connection with this designation, the plaintiff transferred his interest in an apartment on May 29, 1997. At no time on or before May 27, 1997 had any person informed the defendants that the plaintiff intended to designate 79 Dune Road as a replacement "like-kind" property.

On June 17, 1997, the defendants' attorney sent the plaintiff's attorney a standard-form real estate contract including a rider specifying that the purchaser "agrees to take the premises as is," and excised certain sellers' representations in the contract, namely, representations that all mechanical and electrical systems including heating, plumbing, and air conditioning would be in working order on the date of the closing.

On June 25, 1997, the plaintiff's attorney sent the defendants' attorney a letter suggesting certain changes to the standard-form contract which included replacing the phrase "to take the premises as is" with "to take the premises as is subject to the provisions of ¶ 16(f) of the standard form." In addition, the plaintiff sought from the defendants a six month warranty after the closing covering the plumbing and heating systems.
On or about July 15, 1997, the plaintiff's attorney sent the defendants' attorney an executed contract for the proposed sale of 79 Dune Road and a check for $60,000 as a security deposit. The signed contract contained a sellers' warranty that all systems were in working order. On July 16, 1997, the defendants' attorney sent the signed contract to the defendants requesting that they sign it. The defendants' attorney also deposited the $60,000 check in an escrow account.
On July 18, 1997, the plaintiff sold a second apartment and designated 79 Dune Road as the substitute property for a "like-kind exchange" under the IRC. The defendants never executed the contract and refused ...

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