After a seven-year legal battle between two heavyweights in Boca Raton real estate, Premier Estate Properties emerged with a courtroom victory over Royal Palm Properties.
A jury this month ruled that Premier Estate Properties didn’t defame Royal Palm Properties when it quoted a former client of both firms panning Royal Palm Properties and praising Premier Estate Properties.
The backstory: In 2008, homeowner Rick Felberbaum listed his 8,597-square-foot home for sale with Royal Palm Properties. The property languished on the market, and in 2009 Felberbaum hired Premier Estate Properties. His house soon sold for $2.8 million, and Felberbaum wrote this testimonial:
“We listed our home located in Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club with the realtor [sic] that seemed to have the ‘corner’ on the Royal Palm market and felt assured that we would have the quickest sale given that agency’s notorious domination of that community. We could not have been more mistaken. After one year plus of virtual inactivity, ignored emails, unreturned phone calls and our perceived complete lack of their regard for selling our home, we signed up with Premier Estate Properties. Finally withing a few short months of listing with you, our home was in contract. We have closed this past Friday and my wife and I could not be happier with the result.” — Seller of 2016 Thatch Palm Drive
Premier Estate Properties included Felberbaum’s tale in marketing materials sent to homeowners in Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club. Royal Palm Properties broker David Roberts responded with a lawsuit alleging trade libel.
Named as defendants were Felberbaum, Premier Estate Properties and brokers Gerard Liguori, Carmen D’Angelo and Joseph Liguori. Royal Palm Properties also named as a defendant Christie’s Great Estates, the marketing network that counts Premier Estate Properties as a member.
Felberbaum hired Greenberg Traurig to defend him, and through years of depositions and hearings, his legal fees rose into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Premier Estate Properties and Christie’s hired separate attorneys and ran up their own legal bills.
Felberbaum said he unwittingly stepped into a rivalry between the two brokers — and after spending seven years defending his right to publicly state his opinion, Felberbaum says he plans to retire from review writing.
“I’m not sending any more testimonials,” Felberbaum said. “Once bitten, twice shy.”