Suit: Aspen Realtor got bum deal in eight-figure home sale
December 15, 2014
An Aspen real estate broker's lawsuit alleges that she was squeezed out of a commission payment for the $10.825 million sale of a Red Mountain home.
The suit targets seller Wayne Ducote and buyer Steven Gordon as well as their limited liability companies with civil conspiracy and breach of contract accusations, along with other civil claims.
The plaintiff is named as GDW Collection LLC, a legal entity established for the purpose of collecting the alleged debt — $270,625 — on behalf of Aspen realtor Wendalin Whitman.
"Everybody made out except for the person who did all of the work on the deal," said Aspen lawyer Matthew Ferguson, who filed the suit Wednesday in Pitkin County District Court.
The suit comes after the Aug. 14 sale of a residence located at 726 Red Mountain Road, one of Pitkin County's most expensive residential areas. Property records describe the single-family home, built in 1969, as having 7,688 square feet and sitting on nearly 61,000 square feet of land.
In April 2013, Gordon retained Whitman to help him find a high-end property in the Aspen area, the suit says. Eventually, Gordon showed serious interest in buying the Red Mountain home and negotiations began, the suit says.
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Gordon, the suit says, urged Whitman to get a better deal than the home's $12.5 million listing price. A series of offers and counter-offers ensued, but in April of this year, Gordon, Ducote and Ducote's property broker, Lorrie Winnerman, began purchase talks without Whitman's involvement, the suit says.
"They conspired to do so in order to refuse them (Whitman and her firm Whitman Fine Properties) the commission," the suit says.
Whitman didn't learn that the home went under contract until after the agreement was made, the suit says. Even so, Gordon assured her in June that she would get her commission.
Still unpaid in November, Whitman sent a letter, via her attorney, seeking her buyer's commission to both Gordon and Ducote.
The suit alleges that only Gordon responded, with the following reply: "Your letter is a gross miss statement (sic) of the facts your client has attempted to black mail (sic) me as well as slander me which is in writing from her. Think carefully about your (threats) as we don't wish a fight but will if necessary. I will not engage in any more exchange with you or your office."
Gordon and Ducote could not be reached for immediate comment Friday. A message left with Winnerman — the suit says she made $80,000 on the deal — was not returned. Winnerman is not a defendant in the suit, but it alleges she played a part in Whitman's not being paid.
"She got paid her commission and we didn't," said Ferguson, who said he might take action against Winnerman in "another proceeding."
Asked for more specifics, Ferguson said, "It's a legal reason I can't give you now."