A couple is suing a Madison County real estate agent they say threatened to bid against them on an online property auction if they didn’t pay him a commission.
Elizabeth Mueller and Jon Corzine filed a complaint Feb. 11 in Madison County Circuit Court against Kevin Wrigley, Fusion Realty LLC, Illinois Department of Professional Regulation Real Estate Recovery Fund.
Mueller and Corzine say they were engaged in July 2012 and started looking for a home to buy in the Collinsville area. The couple found a property on Chapel in Collinsville listed on an online auction website.
Mueller and Corzine say they went to look at the Chapel property on July 31 and were approached by Wrigley, a licensed real estate agent. The couple says Wrigley asked if they were the people he “was bidding against on Online Real Estate Auctions.” The couple told the agent they had not placed any bids on the property.
The couple says the online auction for the property was set to end at 6 p.m. Aug. 1, 2012. They say they placed their first bid at 5:17 p.m. in the amount of $88,000. Between 5:17 and 5:59 p.m., there were a total of three parties bidding one of which was Wrigley, according to the petition.
At 6 p.m., Mueller and Corzine say they placed a bid of $97,000. They say Wrigley continued bidding higher. The real estate agent allegedly emailed Mueller and said he would stop bidding if Mueller would pay him a 3% commission and “alluded to the fact that if the commission was not paid, he would keep bidding.”
The couple says Wrigley continued emailing and “escalated his threats” by saying they better accept the offer of paying him a 3% commission or he was raising his bid in one minute. Mueller says she placed a call to Wrigley and asked him to stop harassing them. Mueller says the agent continued making threats on the phone and continued to pressure the couple to pay the commission.
At 8:19 p.m., Mueller says she “gave in to Wrigley’s threats to keep bidding up the property” and agreed to pay the commission. Wrigley allegedly demanded the agreement to be made in writing. Mueller and Corzine’s final bid on the property was $111,000.
Mueller and Corzine say they have since learned Wrigley misrepresented himself as working on behalf of clients. They say he engaged in unauthorized brokering of the property and violated Illinois law by attempting to extort a commission from the couple. They accuse Wrigley of consumer fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. The couple says the agent’s actions caused them to pay an extra $15,400 for the real estate. They are asking that Wrigley be ordered to pay more than $50,000 in actual damages plus punitive damages, attorney fees and court costs.
Mueller and Corzine contend Wrigley violated the professional ethics and responsibilities for real estate agents in Illinois. They say the law allows for damages related to the violations to be recovered from the Real Estate Recovery Fund and are asking to be awarded $25,000 in damages and any other relief the Court deems proper.
Attorneys Brian R. Kalb and Meredith L. Head of Edwardsville represent Mueller and Corzine. They demand a jury trial.
Madison County Circuit Court Case No. 13-L-213