Monday, November 07, 2016

Real Estate Brokerage Sued Over Its Agent's Alleged Theft Of $50K In Customer's Earnest Money Deposits; Victim Seeks Over $1 Million In Punitive, Emotional Distress Damages; Business Insurer Seeks Declaratory Judgment Establishing It Has No Obligation To Provide Defendant A Defense

In Chicago, Illinois, the Cook County Record reports:
  • An insurance company has gone to federal court in hopes of proving it has no obligation to cover a suburban real estate brokerage against a lawsuit brought by a woman who has demanded the agency pay her more than $1 million for failing to stop an agent who worked at the brokerage from pocketing tens of thousands of dollars in earnest money.

    Connecticut-based Twin City Fire Insurance Company filed a complaint for declaratory judgment on Oct. 25 in federal court in Chicago. It argues it owes no insurance coverage obligations to Re/Max Northwest and Dorothy Ellis, the brokerage’s owner and managing broker, in a Cook County Circuit Court breach of contract lawsuit filed June 7.

    In that matter, Elzbieta Sofer, of Park Ridge, accused Re/Max Northwest agent Eva Kalembasa of pocketing a $40,000 down payment Sofer made for an $80,000 Chicago property and a $10,000 down payment for a $180,000 Park Ridge property. As part of that complaint, Sofer said Ellis did nothing to stop Kalembasa from “defrauding certain customers” of more than $2.5 million.

    Ellis, Sofer alleged, “failed to make any effort to determine what, if any, properties Eva Kalembasa was attempting to sell, what monies she had collected and if she put funds into an escrow account as required by various contracts and Illinois statute.”

    On account of emotional distress Sofer alleged she suffered over her loss of $50,000 — “which caused her to become nervous to such a degree that she required medical care and treatment and still requires medical care and treatment” — Sofer seeks judgment of more than $1 million in punitive and exemplary damages.

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