Friday, January 19, 2007

Seinfeld Goes To Court Over Pennies From His Bank Account

This story is Jewish on SO many different levels:

Jerry Seinfeld's high-priced spread is going to cost him more than he thought, about $100,000 more. A Manhattan judge has ruled that the comedian owes about that much as a commission to the broker who helped him find a townhouse on the Upper West Side that he and wife Jessica bought for $3.95 million in February 2005. Seinfeld had argued that the broker, Tamara Cohen, did not deserve the commission because she failed to show the West 82nd Street brownstone on the Jewish Sabbath, the day the Seinfelds wanted to see it. The Seinfelds looked at the house and made a deal to buy it without Cohen after they were unable to reach Cohen and she failed to return their calls.

Cohen said she had told the Seinfelds she observed the Jewish Sabbath and could not work between Friday evening and sundown Saturday. But the Seinfelds told the court they did not know why Cohen did not return their calls. State Supreme Court Justice Rolando Accosta said "the evidence clearly indicates she served as the Seinfelds' real estate broker," and that she had shown them a number of residences before finding the townhouse. The judge also noted that Cohen had agreed with Maximillan Sanchez, the broker who listed the house for its owners, to split evenly a 5 percent or 6 percent fee, her half paid by the Seinfelds and his half paid by the owners of the house.

"The only real issue here, as far as the court is concerned," Accosta said in his decision earlier this month, "is whether the broker's fee was 5 or 6 percent." The judge ordered a trial to determine how much Cohen should get. At 5 percent, the total fee would be $197,500 and Seinfeld would owe Cohen $98,750; at 6 percent, the fee would be $237,000 and Cohen's cut would be $118,500. Seinfeld's lawyer, Richard Menaker, was not immediately available, people in his office said. Cohen's lawyer, Steven Landy, said he was "gratified and happy with the decision, and we believe it was the correct one." Sanchez, the listing broker, was paid 3 percent, Landy said. He said it was Cohen's position that she, too, was owed 3 percent. Landy said he had heard Menaker was moving to reargue the case. "I don't believe he has any legal basis to do so," Landy said. "The judge left him very little wiggle room." [source]

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