BRUNE, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court.
This is an appeal by the sellers of real estate from a judgment in favor of a real estate broker for commissions on the
On August 12th Seth went to Steele and told him of the rumor that the then occupant of Steele's Motel "was going to move out on him, leaving him holding the bag." Seth also stated that he had a prospect with a $12,000 down payment, but did not then disclose his name. Steele replied that he had heard the rumor, that on the previous day he had sent for and had talked with the man then occupying the motel and did not believe that he was going to move out. To this Steele added, according to Seth, "but if he does go I will be over and take your man's $12,000.00." By August 16th the rumor proved true and Seth testified that at eight o'clock that morning Steele came to his house and asked him "how long will it take you to get in touch with that man with $12,000.00 and get him here?" On that date, in accordance with Steele's request, Seth at once communicated with Seaman, who responded on August 18th that he would come to Elkton on August 25th. Seth also testified that he informed Steele of Seaman's name when Steele came to see him on the morning
On August 20th Steele contacted Mrs. Cushard and on August 23rd he gave her an exclusive agency contract, to become effective on August 26th, to sell Steele's Motel. Mrs. Cushard arranged to have Seaman spend the evening of August 25th at Steele's Motel but not to meet Seth until the 26th. Seaman arrived on August 25th, and before meeting Seth the next day he and Steele agreed that they would pretend not to know each other when Seth brought Seaman out to see the motel. This plan was carried out and on August 26th Steele discharged Seth as his agent. Mrs. Cushard continued negotiations with Seaman, and on October 8, 1955, a formal agreement of sale was executed.
The appellee later learned that Seaman had purchased the property and brought this suit at law in the Circuit Court for Cecil County to recover his commissions. The instructions of the court clearly submitted to the jury the issue whether the appellee was employed by the appellants as a broker and whether the appellee was the procuring cause of the sale. The verdict was in favor of the appellee and he was awarded a judgment for the amount of the commissions. This appeal is from that judgment.
The appellants have in general raised two questions on this appeal.
The first question deals with the trial court's refusal to grant a motion for continuance. The granting of a continuance is ordinarily in the sound discretion of the trial court and unless there is an arbitrary exercise of its discretion, the decision thereon is not subject to review on appeal to this Court. We find no evidence of an arbitrary exercise of discretion from the facts in this case. Cf. Millstein v. Yost, 197 Md. 348, 79 A.2d 149, and cases therein cited; Plank v. Summers, 205 Md. 598, 109 A.2d 914, in which the denial of a continuance was held ground for reversal.
The second question concerns who was the procuring cause
Code (1951), Article 2, Section 17, provides that:
It has long been established in this State that in order for the appellee-broker to recover he must not only prove that he was employed but that he was the procuring cause of the sale. Keener v. Harrod, 2 Md. 63; Taft v. Bayne, 140 Md. 683, 118 A. 173; Hill v. Iglehart, 145 Md. 537, 125 A. 843; Snedker v. Baltimore Brick Co., 198 Md. 499, 84 A.2d 868; Baliles v. Bryant, 207 Md. 332, 114 A.2d 601.
The appellants urge that during the period of Seth's activity, Seth did not even have a price to quote to Seaman and that Seaman was not ready, willing and able to buy the property.
As to whether or not Seth produced a customer ready, willing and able to purchase the property, the appellants relied very heavily on Seaman's testimony to the effect that until he obtained employment by the duPont Company he was not ready and willing to make the purchase, and that he did not obtain such employment until the latter part of September. However, this is not the whole of his testimony bearing on that subject. He also testified that during the period between the latter part of August and the latter part of September (during which period he was keeping in contact with Mrs. Cushard about the Steele property), he was in touch with a New York broker "because I still felt I wanted to buy a motel even if I didn't receive that job offer from duPont, and I would go anywhere on the eastern coast to buy a motel * * *." As a result of his dealing with the New York broker he did go to see a motel at Laurel, Delaware.
The questions of whether or not Seaman was ready, willing and able to make the purchase and whether or not Seth was the procuring cause of the sale were squarely presented to the jury. The appellants did not challenge the correctness of the trial court's instructions on these subjects, but they did challenge the legal sufficiency of the evidence to warrant the submission of the question to the jury as to whether or not the plaintiff (appellee) had procured a purchaser able, as well as ready and willing to purchase the property. We think that the trial court properly rejected their prayers based on this ground.
Continuing in his capacity as agent, Seth made the necessary arrangements for Seaman to view the property. Secrecy with which Seaman's arrival at Steele's Motel was shrouded by Seaman, Steele and Mrs. Cushard, the deception practiced by Seaman and Steele on Seth on August 26th, Steele's notice of discharge to Seth delivered on that day and the subsequent conduct of negotiations between the owners and the ultimate buyer through the competing broker as intermediary, all prevented Seth from participating in the final negotiations which culminated in the sale of the motel.
The sufficiency of these facts to show that Seth was the procuring cause of the sale is supported, as the trial court pointed out in his thorough opinion overruling the appellants' motion for judgment N.O.V., by Groscup v. Downey, 105 Md. 273, 65 A. 930; Slagle v. Russell, 114 Md. 418, 80 A. 164; Baltimore Car Wheel Co. v. Clark, 131 Md. 513, 104 A. 357; and Hill v. Iglehart, 145 Md. 537, 125 A. 843.
The appellants rely upon the right of an owner to revoke the agency of a broker before the latter finds a purchaser ready, able and willing to buy, citing in support of this proposition and quoting from Hill v. Iglehart, 145 Md. 537, 550, 125 A. 843, and Ebling v. Brewer, 154 Md. 290, 298, 141 A. 363. Each of the quotations, however, makes it clear that in order that revocation of the agency may defeat the broker's right to commissions the revocation must be free of bad faith. To the same effect, see Howard v. Street, 125 Md. 289, 301, 93 A. 923. The secretiveness and deception which immediately
The discharge of Seth and the consummation of the sale through another broker do not defeat Seth's right to commissions if he was the procuring cause of the sale. Warshawsky v. Traub, 156 Md. 597, 144 A. 833. As was said in that case (at 156 Md. 603): "The consummation of a sale through subsequent and independent efforts of the owners, or another broker, does not deprive the plaintiff of his right to commissions, if his efforts were the proximate and procuring cause of the sale." The same rule applies where the vendor effects the sale himself, if the broker's efforts may fairly be regarded as the procuring cause of that result. Such a question is ordinarily for the jury and is "not to be withdrawn from their consideration unless the evidence admits of no reasonable inference that the agreement of sale was the result of the broker's service." Buchholz v. Gorsuch, 144 Md. 62, 65, 124 A. 389. See also the cases therein cited and the recent case of Heslop v. Dieudonne, 209 Md. 201, 120 A.2d 669.
As was said in Jones v. Adler, 34 Md. 440, which was cited in the Buchholz Case and quoted in the Heslop Case: "It is well settled, if the agent introduces or discloses the name of the purchaser, and such introduction or disclosure is the foundation upon which negotiations are begun and the sale effected, he will be entitled to commissions, and this too although in point of fact the sale may have been made by the owner. In other words, he cannot avail himself of the services, and by making a sale through information derived from the agent, deprive the latter of his commissions."
Following the rule of this case, we hold that Seth, having been employed as a broker by the Steeles to sell their motel and having produced in good faith a purchaser who was accepted by the employers, is entitled to his commissions, despite the fact that he did not take part in the final negotiations because of the actions of the employers and others.
The appellants also objected to several rulings on evidence. The only objections of this sort which they argue in their brief are that Seaman was not permitted to answer questions
In accordance with the above views the judgment will be affirmed.
Judgment affirmed, with costs.