The Real Deal Miami

Marina Palms stiffed broker on six-figure commission, lawsuit alleges

She represented the same buyer on another unit, boat slip and two parking spaces at Marina Palms
By Francisco Alvarado | June 29, 2018 11:30AM

Marina Palms Yacht Club and Residences, Yamile Espinosa and Michael Internoscia

A Kendall-based luxury residential broker is accusing the in-house sales team leader for the Marina Palms Yacht Club and Residences of squeezing her out of a deal involving a $5.5 million penthouse and a $440,000 boat slip sold to one of her clients, according to a recently filed lawsuit.

As a result, Yamile Espinosa is claiming the North Miami Beach project’s developers and their brokerage Marina Palms Realty owe her roughly $356,400, representing the 6 percent commission she would have made on the sale.

Espinosa and her firm Miami Grand Realty are suing Marina Palms Realty, its manager Michael Internoscia, and Marina Palms Residences North and Marina Palms Residences South, the development entities. All three companies are owned by The Plaza Group and The Devstar Group, which built the two-tower project at 17201 Biscayne Boulevard through a joint venture. The lawsuit was filed on May 22 in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

According to the lawsuit, Internoscia sold the penthouse and the boat slip in early 2017 to Pablo Otero and his company Blue Marlin without Espinosa’s knowledge or participation, even though Espinosa is alleging he was aware that she represented the buyer in previous transactions at Marina Palms.

Michael J. Schlesinger, Espinosa’s lawyer, said his client is entitled to a commission because the developers signed off on an agreement registering her as the buyer’s broker.

“In my experience, developers pay commissions to outside brokers who register their clients at their development, even if the clients subsequently buys a different or an additional unit,” Schlesinger said. “This time-honored process is the life line of new construction condominium projects who rely primarily on soliciting outside brokers to sell their inventory to their domestic and foreign clients.”

A motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the developers’ lawyers claims that none of the agreements Espinosa signed granted her exclusive representation to other units that became available.

Attorneys for the developers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Espinosa and her brokerage claim they were purposefully excluded from participating in the penthouse and boat slip transaction and receiving a commission from Internoscia, the lawsuit alleges.

Espinosa claims she attempted to meet and discuss the issue with Internoscia and contacted the developers to put them on notice. However, the penthouse and boat slip were sold to Otero without Espinosa’s involvement.

According to the lawsuit, Otero and Blue Marlin retained Espinosa in July 2015 through his business representatives Juan and Walter Pipkin. When Espinosa could not find any resale properties that met Otero’s specifications, she recommended he consider looking at new construction condos, including Marina Palms.

Espinosa began requesting information on Marina Palms from the project’s exclusive developer representative, Jessica Bostwick, who provided her with information detailing amenities, pricing, and deposits for the available units at both the North Tower and South Tower. Espinosa also received an email from Marina Palms Realty sales associate Jennifer Markovich telling her outside brokers would receive a 6 percent commission and a new jet ski for selling developer units in both towers.

On Sept. 27, 2015 the Marina Palms associate emailed Espinosa information on an available unit in the north tower that met Otero’s specifications, as well as an available marina slip. Two days later, Espinosa brought Walter Pipkin — who was acting on behalf of Otero and Blue Marlin — to the Marina Palms sales center. She also registered Otero as a potential buyer.

According to the lawsuit, registering a potential buyer is done to avoid ambiguity or confusion as to which broker procured the buyers. “At this point, Espinosa was fully protected for any sales made to this buyer, Otero, or any companies related or affiliated with Otero at Marina Palms,” the complaint states.

Markovich also showed Espinosa and Pipkin a video presentation of the project and floor plans for units in both towers, identifying unsold units in the north and south towers. Pipkin recorded the presentation and sent it to Otero. Espinosa represented Otero when he purchased a unit on the 10th floor of the north tower and a boat slip. A few months later, she again represented Otero when he purchased two additional parking spaces.