Levy Wolf Real Estate Brokerage v. Lizza Industries: Broker Who Introduces Lessee to Property Not Procuring Cause

In Levy Wolf Real Estate Brokerage, Inc. v. Lizza Industries, Inc., the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, addressed whether a broker’s actions constituted procuring cause for the lease of property. The court found no procuring cause as the broker merely introduced the subject property to the eventual lessee and failed in its attempts to arrange meetings between lessor and lessee.

Mura Corporation (Lessee) sought to lease commercial property. In August 1982, Levy Wolf Real Estate (Broker) introduced Lessee to property owned by CNH (Lessor). In October 1982, Broker unsuccessfully attempted to arrange a meeting between Lessee and Lessor. In early 1983, Broker contacted Lessee again to attempt to regenerate interest in the property.

Prior to and during its relationship with Broker, Lessee also had contact with Cushman & Wakefield (Cushman). Beginning in December 1982, Cushman concentrated on negotiating a lease between Lessee and Lessor. Its activities included property site research, and making inquiries and proposals on Lessee’s behalf. Cushman’s efforts resulted in a lease agreement between Lessor and Lessee. After Cushman received the entire commission on the lease, Broker sued to recover a commission. The New York Supreme Court, Nassau County, granted the defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment dismissing the complaint. Broker appealed.

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, stated that in order for Broker to recover it must show that it was the “procuring cause” of the lease. The court explained the term procuring cause as the “direct and proximate link, as distinguished from one that is indirect and remote, between the bare introduction and the consummation.” The court found that the totality of Broker’s above-listed efforts stood in stark contrast to those by Cushman. The court found no evidence that Broker “initiated any negotiations or discussed with the parties any of the basic and material details upon which they would reasonably have had to agree before a lease could be executed.” Thus, the court found that Broker was not the procuring cause of the lease and affirmed summary judgment.

Levy Wolf Real Estate Brokerage, Inc. v. Lizza Industries, Inc., 118 A.D.2d 688, 500 N.Y.S.2d 37 (1986).