Oral arguments are scheduled in a case before the Michigan Supreme Court filed by a real estate broker and agent against Howell Public Schools.

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 in the case.

Livingston County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hatty granted a motion by the school district to dismiss the case on grounds that the statute of frauds barred plaintiffs’ claims. That statute requires certain types of agreements to be in writing and signed by the party against whom it will be enforced. The plaintiffs’ case essentially relied on the understanding of a verbal agreement between the parties. In February of last year, the Court of Appeals reversed Hatty’s decision, saying it was compelled to reach the result by binding precedent, but opined that it was the wrong result, and urged the Michigan Supreme Court to address the issue.

The Supreme Court has since ordered oral argument on the district’s application for leave to appeal to address whether promissory estoppel is an exception to the statute of frauds. Promissory estoppel is a legal principle that a promise is enforceable by law, even if made without formal consideration. The Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments on Thursday, April 12th. (JM/JK)