BAM Key Details: 

  • On Friday, April 12, 2024, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation decided against consolidating buyer agent commission cases into one large case.
  • There is still a possibility of future consolidation. 

A panel of six judges has just ruled against merging copycat commission lawsuits into one large case—at least for now. 

In a four-page summary filed on Friday, April 12, 2024, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation explained the judges’ decision, arguing that centralization “is not necessary at this time for the convenience of the parties and witnesses or to further the just and efficient conduct of the litigation.” 

From the panel summary: 

“Given the broad contours of this new settlement agreement and the changing landscape of the parties’ positions on centralization, we think it wise to deny centralization at this time.”

The judges were asked to consider merging several copycat cases filed after the October 31 Sitzer/Burnett verdict—and trying them all as one case in a Missouri courtroom. They also weighed proposals to consolidate all active class action lawsuits (more than the nine originally named) and move proceedings to a different state. 

Many of the defendants in these lawsuits, as well as some of the plaintiffs, were opposed to consolidation, saying it would be “inefficient and unduly burdensome.” And it doesn’t help that many of the cases, being local in nature, argued over different sets of rules and situations. 

Future Consolidation is possible

The judges remain open to the possibility of consolidation in the future. But that wouldn’t happen until the current settlements with Anywhere, RE/MAX, Keller Williams, Compass, Real, and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) have received final approval. 

“After settlement proceedings conclude, and it becomes evident how many claims and parties remain and the extent to which they overlay, if at all, it may be that formal centralization is needed, or perhaps, information coordination efforts can adequately address any duplicative pretrial proceedings.”

As for unresolved copycat cases, many of which were paused while the judges considered proposals to consolidate, those can now continue. 

Judges for some of these lawsuits—like Nosalek in Massachusetts and Moehrl in Illinois—are currently reviewing settlement agreements, though both may yet go to trial. Others, like the Gibson case filed right after the Sitzer/Burnett verdict, are just getting started. 

Due to the impact of proposed settlements involving several of the named defendants, the judges ruled against rolling the existing lawsuits together. 

“The settlement may well resolve at least some claims in this litigation if not many. We cannot speculate on the number of parties and claims that will remain once this and any other settlements are approved.”

Stay tuned for more as the story develops.