One thing left out of this until now, is the State inspection. I can speak of NY specifically, but I can almost guarantee that all states probably inspect the operation of the e-brake and won't pass without it working.
Its a little suprising that it doesn't work on a stick shift car. At least on an automatic, where it gets very little use, I've seen plenty that have frozen up. That tells me the previous owner(s) weren't using it. Hell, I had a 1989 Chevy C1500 with a stick for 4 years that I traded in 2003 and the e-brake worked flawlessly.
BTW, how about a little info on the car in question. Maybe someone has some knowledge about it and any other info to watch out for.