Isaguirre v. Echevarria, 11659

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho
Citation534 P.2d 471,96 Idaho 641
Docket NumberNo. 11659,11659
PartiesMargie ISAGUIRRE, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Ben ECHEVARRIA, Defendant, and Josefa Echevarria, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date18 April 1975

Page 471

534 P.2d 471
96 Idaho 641
Margie ISAGUIRRE, Plaintiff-Respondent,
Ben ECHEVARRIA, Defendant,
Josefa Echevarria, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 11659.
Supreme Court of Idaho.
April 18, 1975.

[96 Idaho 642]

Page 472

Edith Miller Klein, Boise, for defendant-appellant.

Richard B. Eismann, Homedale, for plaintiff-respondent.


This appeal places in issue the determination of the trial court that respondent Margie Isaguirre is entitled to a $1,500.00 real estate broker's commission for her part in the sale of the Echevarrias' Owyhee County ranch. For the reasons set forth below, the decision of the trial court is affirmed.

On January 25, 1971, the appellant, Josefa Echevarria, and her now-deceased husband signed a Receipt and Agreement to Purchase for the purpose of selling their ranch to a Mr. and Mrs. Hardy for $30,000.00. Typed into the appropriate blanks on the document were provisions for a down payment of $5,000.00, monthly payments of $100.00, and annual interest payments. A broker's commission of $1,500.00 was written in ink in the proper blank in a separate part of the agreement form. 1 The document was not notarized.

[96 Idaho 643]

Page 473

The respondent real estate broker was, at the time of the agreement, the daughter-in-law of the appellant. Respondent contends that she was orally engaged by the appellant to arrange the sale of the ranch in question. Mrs. Isaguirre placed an ad in a local newspaper and was subsequently contacted by the Hardys. She showed them the land, and later had the document in question prepared.

Testimony at trial indicated that at the time of the signing both the appellant and her husband were ill and elderly. Moreover, both were far from proficient in reading the English language.

Also during the trial, respondent and Mrs. Hardy testified that respondent's husband (at that time) read the entire contract to the appellant in Basque. John, the husband, testified that he did not translate the document to his parents and had in fact been in the barn milking the cows during the signing of the document.

On or about February 4, 1971, the appellant's other son, Pete, after a conversation with the appellant, told Mr. Hardy that the contract was unacceptable to his parents and would therefore have to be rescinded. Hardy then sought and received from respondent a refund of the $500.00 earnest money he had given her. Pete then arranged a second agreement with the Hardys for sale which included $150.00 monthly payments, semi-annual interest payments, and a $5,000.00 down payment, but had no provision for broker commissions. This second agreement was accepted by the Echevarrias as sellers and the Hardys as buyers.

Pete testified that the terms set forth in respondent's agreement were not acceptable to the appellant once they had been explained to her by Pete following the signing of the first agreement. Pete further testified that his efforts and not respondent's newspaper ad, first sparked the Hardys' interest in the ranch.

Appellant was unable to testify at trial due to illness. An affidavit filed in support of a motion for new trial states that she had not agreed to pay a commission, the respondent had already received a large sum from appellant, and respondent had misled appellant as to the terms of the agreement. This was the reason for the rescission of the first agreement with the Hardys.

Respondent subsequently brought this action for the $1,500.00 broker commission.

The trial court found that John, respondent's former husband, had read the contract terms to his parents. The court then concluded as a matter of law that the first Receipt and Agreement to Purchase was a valid enforceable agreement as to the payment of the real estate commission. Judgment was subsequently entered for respondent on July 17, 1973. A motion for new trial was filed July 26, 1973, containing two grounds for the new trial. New counsel filed an amended motion for new trial on November 20, 1973, with three additional grounds. The court did not consider the amended motion because it was not filed within the time for such motions. The court denied on its merits the original motion for new trial.

The primary contention by the appellant as to error by the trial court focuses on the first agreement signed by appellant and the Hardys. The trial court used the commission clause in that agreement to meet the statutory provisions requiring a writing as evidence of such brokerage arrangements. The appellant argues that since the agreement to purchase was both unenforceable 2 and rescinded, the commission clause is without effect. Moreover, appellant continues, the deviation between the terms of the first and second agreements indicates that the respondent had not secured a buyer prepared to meet the terms desired by the appellant. By failing to do this, Mrs. Isaguirre did not fulfill her obligation as broker.

[96 Idaho 644]

Page 474

Because of the provisions of I.C. § 9-508, the general rule in Idaho has been that a real estate broker cannot collect a commission on an oral engagement by the client or on a quantum meruit theory. Brace v. Johnson, 45 Idaho 327, 262 P. 148 (1927); Weatherhead v. Cooney, 32 Idaho 127, 180 P. 760 (1919). The statute reads as follows:

'No contract for the payment of any sum of money or thing of value, as and for a commission or reward for the finding or procuring by one person of a purchaser of real estate of another shall be valid unless the same shall be in writing, signed by the owner of such real estate, or his legal, appointed and duly qualified representative. (1915, ch. 131, § 1, p. 287; compiled and reen. C.L., § 6012; C.S. § 7979; I.C.A., § 16-508.)'

Thus, something beyond an oral contract is needed to support an award of a commission to Mrs. Isaguirre.

This Court faced a similar situation in Homefinders v. Lawrence, 80 Idaho 543, 335 P.2d 893 (1959). In that case the appellants...

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10 cases
  • Ellis v. Butterfield, 12086
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • July 13, 1977
    ...Under the circumstances, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion. I.R.C.P. 59, Isaguirre v. Echevarria, 96 Idaho 641, 534 P.2d 471 Appellant Ellises have objected to the award of attorney fees to respondents, and have themselves moved in this Court for attorney fe......
  • Gilbert v. Smith, 11949
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • August 5, 1976
    ...supported by substantial, competent although conflicting evidence and therefore will not be disturbed on appeal. Isaguirre v. Echevarria, 96 Idaho 641, 645, 534 P.2d 471 (1975); I.C. § With respect to statutory forfeiture, I.C. § 42-222(2) mandates a five year period during which respondent......
  • Bank of New Mexico v. Freedom Homes, Inc., 4409
    • United States
    • New Mexico Court of Appeals of New Mexico
    • May 6, 1980
    ...120 Ga.App. 557, 171 S.E.2d 646 (1969); Bradley [94 N.M. 535] Page 1346 v. Banks, 260 So.2d 256 (Fla.App. 1972); Isaquirre v. Echevarria, 96 Idaho 641, 534 P.2d 471 (1975); Wright v. Smith, 105 R.I. 1, 249 A.2d 56 (1969); Hale v. Kreisel, 194 Wis. 271, 215 N.W. 227 Wrongful Interference wit......
  • Prescott v. Prescott, 11780
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • November 28, 1975
    ...when they are grounded on substantial and competent evidence, despite the presence of a conflict in the evidence. Isaguirre v. Echevarria, 96 Idaho 641, 534 P.2d 471 (1975); Mast v. Mast, 95 Idaho 537, 511 P.2d 819 (1973); Clements v. Clements, 91 Idaho 732, 430 P.2d 98 (1967). Even more di......
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