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Dream Big!

Court awards commercial broker $1.5M commission


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – July 12, 2017 – A long-time Palm Beach County real estate broker has won a $1.5 million verdict against Florida Power & Light Co. over a commission he said was owed him on a $75 million land sale. A deal said to have started with a conversation with a top FPL executive at a Florida State University tailgate party.

"I am grateful that the jury heard the truth and that they found that I was the procuring cause," said Samuel McRoberts. McRoberts, 62, of North Palm Beach, who owned and operated S.J. McRoberts real estate for 30 years, now works for Water Pointe Realty Group, headquartered in Tequesta.

Juno Beach-based FPL spokesman Bill Orlove said FPL is disappointed with the verdict and is evaluating an appeal.

The lawsuit focused on a 12,535-acre property in Hendry County that is in FPL's 10-year site plan as a potential site for a combined natural gas and solar plant.

The lawsuit filed against FPL in Palm Beach County Circuit Court in 2014 states that McRoberts met FPL's director of project development, Buck Martinez, at a tailgate party at an FSU football game in Tallahassee on Oct. 25, 2008. McRoberts and his wife, Aleathea, were at the event with their daughter Mallory. Mallory's roommate was Ashley Martinez, who was there with her parents, Buck and Sylvia Martinez.

Martinez informed McRoberts that FPL was searching for a large power plant site, and McRoberts said he knew of an ideal site in Hendry County.

"Once Martinez agreed that FPL would protect McRoberts, i.e., pay him a commission if the project should go forward, McRoberts identified to Martinez the McDaniel Ranch property," the lawsuit states.

After a detailed conversation, Martinez and McRoberts shook hands, and Martinez told McRoberts he would call McRoberts later in the week to get together, the lawsuit states.

Greg Weiss, a West Palm Beach attorney who along with his partner Lou Mracheck, represented McRoberts in a jury trial in late June, said in an email: "Thereafter Martinez blew Sam off, but in 2011 FPL closed on a portion of the McDaniel Ranch for $35,000,000. In 2013, FPL closed on a second portion of the McDaniel's ranch for $40,000,000. Sam was never paid a commission for either sale, so Sam initiated this litigation."

Weiss said that at the trial, while FPL admitted Martinez was at the FSU tailgate, FPL argued there was no conversation about McDaniel Ranch at the FSU tailgate, and no contract. FPL asserted that Martinez discovered the property at an unrelated meeting in March 2009.

After two hours of deliberation, the jury awarded McRoberts $1.5 million, finding that there was an offer and acceptance at the October 2008 football game and that FPL breached the agreement. Damages of $1.875 million had been sought.

Copyright © 2017 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.), Susan Salisbury. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


Related Topics: Commercial