Defense Verdict in Professional Liability Case Against Commercial Real Estate Broker

February 7, 2024

Steve Schwartz and Rebecca Verble secured a defense verdict in a professional liability case against a commercial real estate broker in St. Louis County. The plaintiff hired a real estate agent to help her find a new location for her tanning salon business. She chose a space in a small strip center that, at the time, was also advertising an outlot or “pad” available for a drive-thru business. Plaintiff was given a brochure advertising the shopping center that specified a 4,000-square-foot outlot was available. There was also a sign on the property when plaintiff looked at it that advertised a “pad” available for a drive thru. Plaintiff claimed she did not see the sign on the property and did not understand what an outlot was. She claimed the defendant real estate agent failed to explain to her how a new drive-thru business adjacent to her leased space could affect her business. After plaintiff moved into the leased space, a frozen custard stand opened on the outlot, near the space leased by plaintiff. Plaintiff claimed the traffic and parking problems caused by the busy custard stand destroyed her tanning salon business. Defendants argued they were not negligent because the advertisement for the outlot/pad with drive thru was obvious to plaintiff, and she knew a drive-thru business could go in near her leased space. Also, defendants argued the tanning business was not destroyed by the custard stand. Plaintiff’s sales records showed that the tanning business started to decline before the custard stand was added to the shopping center. It is also common knowledge that tanning salons are a dying business because people are aware that using tanning beds can cause skin cancer.