COURT REPORT: More Settlements Are in Motion as Other Cases Continue to Develop

Editor’s note: The COURT REPORT is RISMedia’s weekly look at current and upcoming lawsuits, investigations and other legal developments around real estate.

Settlements from large brokerages have continued to cause ripples as copycat lawsuits of Burnett and other commission lawsuits persist. While some pending or approved settlements have caused proceedings to be paused in some cases—and may even end them if immunity is granted—other large brokerages are in deliberation of their own possible settlements in their stayed cases.

Tuccori and Maslanka head toward settlement

In a recent status update, Tuccori vs. At World Properties looks to be moving closer to a settlement. The court had allowed a stay of proceedings back in April as the defendants and plaintiffs wanted to deliberate on the possibility of a settlement. Pursuant to this, both parties had a mediation with the Judge on May 21. Both parties will be submitting another status report by June 4 to state their progress on the matter.

Notably, Tuccori was filed by homebuyers, and will likely be unaffected by the many settlement agreements struck by big brokerages in national cases, or the broader deal NAR entered into. 

In the case of Maslanka vs. Baird & Warner, both parties had requested a stay back in April to also pursue the possibility of a settlement. They had a Judge mediation on May 16 and requested to continue, which is scheduled for June 25. Following this upcoming mediation, both parties will be submitting another status report on their progress by July 9. 

QJ Team and Willsim Latham stayed due to pending settlements

The collective of HomeServices of America defendants—HomeServices themselves, ABA Management, Ebby Halliday Real Estate, Penfed Realty, The Dave Perry-Miller Company and William Trew Real Estate Services—have received a stay in the Texas-based Burnett copycat case known as QJ Team vs. the Texas Association of REALTORS® due to the pending settlement.

HomeServices announced their $250 million settlement back on Apr. 26, choosing to pay out and change their practices rather than face another trial and a cascade of copycat cases.

In a similar vein, RE/MAX, Anywhere and Keller Williams have been granted a stay in Willsim Latham vs. Metrolist Services due to nationwide settlements in Burnett vs. NAR.

RE/MAX’s $55 million settlement—announced on Sept. 19, 2023—and Keller Williams’ $70 million settlement—announced on Feb. 2—are awaiting final approval in the courts. Meanwhile, Anywhere’s Oct. 6, 2023 settlement of $83.5 million received final approval on May 9.

March sees battling filings

March vs. the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) saw filings from both parties arguing on the case of defendant immunity due to settlements in other cases.

RISMedia reported that several defendants recently filed asking Judge Robert Lehburger to pause proceedings against them pending a final decision on whether the NAR settlement applies to them.

On the plaintiff side, there was vehement disagreement on this matter. Plaintiffs stated that due to several legal predicates, the NAR settlement does not grant immunity. The filing specifically states that “(u)nder the identical factual predicate doctrine, the NAR Settlement is presumptively inapplicable unless a factual determination has been made that the actions share the very same facts/evidence.”

Sandford and eXp dropped from sex-trafficking lawsuit

eXp Founder and CEO Glenn Sanford and the company have been dropped from one of the two ongoing lawsuits claiming that the company and top executives were complicit in an alleged drugging and sexual assault committed by two top recruiters. 

RISMedia reported that Judge Andre Birotte ruled that plaintiffs in the case had not sufficiently argued or provided evidence that the mega brokerage and its founder and CEO had benefited from the actions of Michael Bjorkman and David Golden, two top influencers at the company, who allegedly drugged and raped Anya Roberts, another eXp agent.

This may only be a temporary removal, as lawyers representing the plaintiffs told RISMedia they would be amending their accusations against eXp and Sanford with new arguments and evidence.

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