A lawsuit filed against Howell Public Schools by a real estate broker and agent is apparently heading toward mediation.

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 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, is also named as a defendant.

Livingston County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hatty 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 Hatty’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 was then allowed to proceed to trial.

The Howell school board held a special meeting last week to discuss the litigation in closed session, with officials declining to comment on what was discussed. Court records now show that the case has proceeded to mediation between the parties; with a trial date tentatively set for June 17th should no agreement be reached. When asked about the status of the lawsuit, district spokesman Tom Gould told WHMI that the district would not comment on pending litigation. (JK)