BAM Key Details:
- Attorneys for the National Association of Realtors filed documents on January 23 supporting the consolidation of class-action commission lawsuits but arguing for the inclusion of all 19 national lawsuits.
- NAR attorneys are also requesting a new venue for the consolidated case (other than Missouri), indicating a preference for either Illinois or Texas.
The number of copycat commission lawsuits just keeps growing. And a fair share of them include the National Association of Realtors (NAR) among the defendants.
Considering NAR is looking at $5 billion in damages from the Sitzer/Burnett trial, it’s not surprising they’re now looking to consolidate all 19 national copycat lawsuits into one.
On top of that, attorneys for NAR are challenging the location for the consolidated case and suggesting Illinois or Texas as more appropriate venues.
Dave Gallagher broke down the latest update on Real Estate News. Read on for the highlights.
NAR asks for consolidation of all 19 national copycat lawsuits
Attorneys for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) support the idea of consolidating copycat commission lawsuits, specifically those naming NAR as one of the defendants.
But in documents filed January 23 before the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, they argued for the inclusion of all 19 national lawsuits—not just the 10 named in a motion filed on December 27 by plaintiff attorneys, including Michael Ketchmark.
That motion requested that the consolidated case be tried in Missouri, where the Sitzer/Burnett issued a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded damages of $1.8 billion (tripled to over $5 billion).
Nine cases were originally included in the motion, but a 10th, the Latham case (filed January 18) was added in a motion filed on January 23.
NAR attorneys argue that the plaintiffs’ original proposal would “consolidate only a limited subset of the pending actions that involve common questions of fact.” As of this writing, there are 19 cases challenging NAR rules related to buyer broker commissions or related rules adopted by Multiple Listing Services (MLS).
Attorneys for the trade association are calling out the “fragmented approach” by the plaintiffs’ counsel, saying it “offers few if any benefits to judicial or party efficiency.”
NAR wants the consolidated case moved to Illinois or Texas
While the plaintiffs’ attorneys are pushing for a trial in Missouri, attorneys for NAR have asked for a different venue.
Their first venue of choice would be the Northern District of Illinois, since the four cases filed in that state cover more of the questions at the heart of these lawsuits.
Those Illinois-based lawsuits are—
- Moehrl—which was originally filed in 2019 and includes the same defendants as Sitzer/Burnett. Moehrl was certified as a class action lawsuit on behalf of home sellers in March 2023.
- The two Batton cases—both of which were filed by homebuyers and named a total of 10 defendants, not including RE/MAX and Anywhere (which settled).
- Tuccori—also brought by a homebuyer and naming just one defendant: @properties
In a written statement to Real Estate News, NAR stated its support for Illinois as a preferred venue for the consolidated case, saying it will “promote efficiency and consistency in addressing the industry-wide issues these cases present.”
While NAR continues to defend practices that benefit consumers and advance homeownership, our members are continuing to serve their clients as they navigate significant, complex, and personal transactions across the country.
If Illinois is a no-go, NAR attorneys will also support a trial in the U.S. District Court in Eastern Texas—the area with the largest number of defendants. Of the 210 total defendants named in the major copycat commission lawsuits, 46 of them are in the two Texas cases:
Both Texas cases also alleged violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA).
Judges in favor of NAR’s proposal?
As of yet, we don’t know which judges support NAR’s argument for including all 19 of the national copycat commission lawsuits—or the suggested change of venue to Illinois or Texas.
Stay tuned for more information. And keep the BAM Lawsuit Watch post bookmarked to stay on top of the latest updates.