The Real Deal New York

Former Newmark broker claims Kuhn favored brother-in-law in commission dispute

George Valliades is asking the courts to vacate an unfavorable arbitration decision
By Rich Bockmann | January 25, 2017 03:10PM

From left: James Kuhn, Lawrence “Chip” Porter and George Valliades

A former Newmark Grubb Knight Frank broker claims company president Jimmy Kuhn should have picked up a red card when he favored his brother-in-law in a commission dispute over a lease for a soccer league.

Brokers George Valliades and Lawrence “Chip” Porter worked as partners in the firm’s capital markets group and had a verbal agreement to split commissions on their deals 50/50, Valliades claims in a court filing submitted to the Manhattan State Supreme Court on Tuesday.

But after Porter refused to honor the split on two deals, they dissolved the partnership in July 2014, according to the petition Valliades filed.

Representatives for Newmark TRData LogoTINY were not immediately available for comment.

As per the terms of the agreements, any deals that did not have contracts executed before the first week of July 2014 would be excluded from the 50/50 split and belong solely to the initiating agent, the lawsuit claims.

Valliades said that before the two went their separate ways in July, Porter was involved in an introductory email with a client, Urban Soccer, but had no involvement afterward. Negotiations fell apart but Urban Soccer returned in 2015 and signed a contract for a new location the next year at Madison Realty Capital’s Whale Square Building in Sunset Park.

Porter demanded he receive half the commission, but Valliades refused and says he instead offered a 75/25 split. Porter came back and offered he would agree to take 40 percent, Valliades claims.

When they finally went to Newmark’s arbitrators in December, Kuhn, Porter’s brother-in-law, defied procedures and sat in on the meetings and exerted “undue influence” in favor of his relative, according to the petition.

When it came down to the decision, the arbitration panel found that Porter’s proposed 60/40 split was closer to the pair’s original agreement, and ruled in his favor.

Valliades Is Asking The Court to vacate the arbitration decision and direct the case to an outside intermediary.