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Extortion Threat?

February 18, 1990

In Robert J. Bruss' column (Dec. 24) about a realtor who failed to include personal property in the purchase contract, he stated as follows:

"I suggest you put pressure on the agent to make things right. If he refuses to do so, don't hesitate to let him know you will file a complaint for misrepresentation and fraud with the state real estate commissioner."

If your readers follow his suggestion, they will be committing extortion. California Penal Code Section 519 states that putting fear into someone by accusing them of a crime constitutes extortion.

Although it is generally proper to threaten to sue someone in a civil action and enforce your rights (Murray Showcase & Fixture Co. v. Sullivan (1911) 15 CA 475, 115 P 259), it is illegal to threaten to have someone's license taken away, by reason of improper, illegal or criminal conduct.

PAUL F. FEGEN

Los Angeles

Fegen is an attorney.

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