A settlement agreement has been reached regarding a lawsuit filed against Howell Public Schools by a real estate broker and agent.

North American Brokers, a real estate agent and real estate broker, filed suit against Howell Public Schools in 2015, alleging that they had engaged a buyer to purchase the former Latson Road Elementary School property (pictured here in June of 2014) owned by the district, but received no broker commission for the sale. St. John Providence, which purchased the land and constructed a medical center on the site, was also named as a defendant.

The lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice Friday as the district entered into a release and settlement agreement approved by the Board of Education last month. District spokesman Thomas Gould tells WHMI, “The Release and Settlement Agreement between the district and Mark Ratliff, and North American Brokers is not an admission of any wrongdoing or liability. Instead, it is a means to resolve a multi-year legal dispute without incurring any further expenses of litigation and limiting the financial impact on the district. The cost of the $90,000 settlement will be split between the district and its insurance carrier with each entity paying $45,000.”

A judge had previously granted a motion by the school district to dismiss the case, citing the statute of frauds which requires certain types of agreements be in writing. The brokers’ case essentially relied on the understanding of a verbal agreement. But the Court of Appeals reversed the judge’s decision, which was backed up by the Michigan Supreme Court, upholding the concept of promissory estoppel; the legal principle that a promise is enforceable by law, even if it’s made without formal consideration.

The lawsuit would have gone to trial had the parties not reached an agreement by June 17th. (DK/JK)