MANHATTAN (CN) – A businessman who runs a “sell it yourself” website for homeowners sued the real estate brokers who helped him sell his own home for $2.2 million, claiming the brokers tortiously interfered with his business and violated contract by telling the Wall Street Journal all about it.
Colby Sambrotto co-founded and was COO of ForSalebyOwner.com, then founded and still runs a similar website, USRealty.com. He sued Bond New York Properties Brokerage and its salesmen Jesse Buckler and Bruno Ricciotti, in New York County Court.
Sambrotto says the salesmen “willfully, wrongfully, and surreptitiously disclosed confidential information regarding defendants’ brokerage relationship with plaintiff to third parties, including but not limited to The Wall Street Journal, without the plaintiff’s knowledge or consent.”
Sambrotto says the Journal’s Aug. 3 story, “‘DIY Guru Gets Broker Help,’ … pointed out the apparent paradox that plaintiff, who operates direct for-sale-by owner websites, used a real estate broker to sell his own apartment and question the viability of such websites and the services that such websites provide.”
The article quoted Buckler extensively, then, Sambrotto says, “went ‘viral'” on the Internet. “These subsequent articles, which also quote Buckler, implied that plaintiff was a hypocrite and a poor businessperson by using a broker to sell his own property,” the complaint states.
The defendants helped Sambrotto sell his home in the New York’s Chelsea neighborhood for $2.2 million in July.
Sambrotto demands $5 million in damages for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference with prospective business relations, and another $64,500 for failure to provide required disclosure forms, plus attorney’s fees and costs.
He is represented by Daniel F. Spitalnic, with Itkowitz & Harwood.
The Wall Street Journal is not a party to this complaint.