Grubb & Ellis v Griswold Properties

An Oakland County, Michigan jury awarded Grubb & Ellis $888,778 after finding landlord Griswold Properties L.L.C. responsible for the payment of a commission on a 2002 lease to H&R Block in downtown Detroit.

Griswold Properties had argued that it did not owe the commission. A commission contract was finalized between Griswold Properties and Grubb & Ellis detailing how commission would be paid if H&R Block signed a lease for space in the Dime Building. When the person representing the tax firm left the company, H&R Block began negotiating directly with Griswold Properties. No commission was paid to Grubb & Ellis.

The case is significant because it shows that commercial brokers can document work on deals even when final agreements are not reached for significant periods. The mere separation in time between a broker performing services and the ultimate lease negotiated directly by a landlord is not necessarily enough to avoid liability.