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Trammel Crow Co. - No. 60 v. Harkinson, 944 S.W.2d 631 (Tex. 1997)

Rule:

Promissory estoppel generally is a defensive doctrine in that it estops a promisor from denying the enforceability of the promise. It may apply when there is a promise that the promisor should reasonably expect to induce action or forbearance of a definite and substantial character on the part of the promisee, and does induce such action or forbearance, if injustice can be avoided only by enforcement of the promise.

Facts:

Plaintiff real estate broker sued defendants for the loss of his commission, alleging tortious interference with contract and prospective business relations, and civil conspiracy. Defendants moved for summary judgment asserting that, absent a written commission agreement, plaintiff's claims were barred by the Texas Real Estate License Act (RELA). The trial court granted defendants' motions. The court of appeals reversed, holding that plaintiff's claims were not barred. 

Issue:

Whether a real estate broker's claims for tortious interference with contract and prospective business relations and civil conspiracy to tortiously interfere are barred under the Texas Real Estate License Act absent a signed written commission agreement.

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

Concluding that the broker's claims for tortious interference and civil conspiracy are in essence claims to recover a commission in violation of section 20(b) of the Real Estate License Act, TEX. REV. CIV. STAT. ANN. art. 6573a (Vernon Supp. 1997), the Supreme Court of Texas reversed that part of the judgment of the court of appeals and rendered judgment that the broker take nothing on these claims.

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