The Real Deal New York

In Corcoran v. Compass, court issues restraining order

But judge says "not a chance in hell" at preventing former manager from working for Compass

March 30, 2015 08:00AM
By E.B. Solomont

From left: Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman, Compass President Leonard Steinberg and CEO Robert Reffkin.

From left: Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman, Compass President Leonard Steinberg and CEO Robert Reffkin.

A judge granted a temporary restraining order preventing former Corcoran Group agents who defected to Compass from accessing Corcoran’s listings database.

The order, issued Tuesday after Corcoran sued Compass for “brazenly and intentionally” poaching its agents, was unsealed Friday, according to lawyers involved.

But while the court said Compass’ new hires cannot access Corcoran’s database, the judge did not grant Corcoran’s other requests, namely that former Soho manager Gene Martinez be prevented from working for Compass.

“There is not a chance in hell that I would issue that TRO,” Justice Saliann Scarpulla of the New York Supreme Court said, according to a transcript of the proceedings obtained by The Real Deal.  In a statement, Compass said the decision allows it to operate its business as usual, stating: “The court merely instructed Compass’ personnel to continue complying with existing Compass policies — not accessing others’ listings databases and following non-solicit agreements.”

Corcoran sued Compass last week, as TRD first reported, accusing the startup brokerage of a “multi-front assault” after 51 of its agents defected to Compass. Among those named in the suit was former Park Slope manager Patrick Brennan, as well as Martinez, whose job offer from Compass was introduced as evidence. (The document has since been sealed, but TRD obtained a copy of it before it was sealed.)

In defense of its motion, Corcoran’s lawyer stated: “It is no accident, no accident that the 28 agents who worked under [Martinez] for so long ended up at Compass’ New York office.”

To that point, Scarpulla upheld non-solicit agreements for the former Corcoran agents who had such agreements.

However, Scarpulla did not grant Corcoran’s request for an expedited discovery. “It’s very important to us to move this as fast as we possibly can to protect our offices,” said Corcoran attorney Richard Scharlat of Dentons US LLP. “The litigation, it seems, is just a cost of doing business with this attack on our company. We think we need to be protected.”

But Scarpulla was having none of it.

“There’s no purpose or reason for me to rush through this as if the barn’s going to burn tomorrow,” Scarpulla said. She added: “Corcoran, the biggest real estate broker in the State of New York is coming to me and saying that we need protection from this new startup company?”

  • Who’s next

    Maybe Corcoran should sue BHS or Elliman next, I hear a lot of agents are going over there…

  • Susan

    So the only basis of the restraining order is that ex Corcoran agents can’t use Corcoran’s database? A lot of wasted time and effort for nothing.

    • Char4Dew

      They could not anyway. Its just BS but I think corcoran is upset…:)

  • “New Day”

    Corcoran vs Martinez, of course Martinez WINS! Compass WINS! … (Former agents… can not be bullied/terrorized by Corcoran’s top brass.) Yeahhh :)

  • Bob the Broker

    None of this makes sense. When you “dis-associate” with Corcoran, all your computer rights are terminated so how do they access Corcoran’s database (taxi) unless they are calling friends still with Corcoran.

    • Char4Dew

      Corcoran must have had a meeting to TELL ALL agents not to give any information to any of the agents who may be thier friend but are no longer in the firm.

  • LUVNYRE

    Who wants to use Taxi anyway? The Compass site is already leaps and bounds ahead of it. LIMO, Jaguar, StreetEasy, etc.

    • Bob the broker

      Actually, Taxi is much better than LIMO but StreetEasy does eveything Taxi and Limo does in a different way. Jaguar is pretty good too.

      • Taxi?

        Taxi crashes all the time, listings are old out dated. StreetEasy, OLR… have more listings updated, easy and breezy to use.

  • Melvin Weiss

    I think the judge would have also denied the restraining order regarding accessing Corcoran’s database unless there was some evidence that was being done.

  • BH

    Perhaps Corcoran should offer a more pleasant work environment to their agents and they wouldn’t be so easily persuaded to move to another company.

  • anticorcoran

    Corcoran treats its agents like expendable drones along with bottom line thinking. Taxi is antiquated and the balance of the business model has no unique offering. Go Compass!

    • Char4Dew

      Yes Once Barbara left the management changed and agents are treated like the bottom of the barrel. This was a nice firm; oh! so long ago.

  • Who’s Next

    Barbara Corcoran probably will be sued next for leaving and knowing too much!

  • Char4Dew

    When someone leaves a firm
    they are immediately removed from the system. THEY CAN NO LONGER access
    anything. As for agents moving to and from firms, that is the way
    the trade works, people move around, no firm owns anyone. This is a
    frivolous law suit and it only serves to slow down the moving process for a
    short time and it will continue real soon.

  • TBeth

    If Corcoran is so vulnerable they need to look inside of their own organization and examine their practices with their people. There is a reason that so many of their agents want to go elsewhere. Corcoran, heal thyself!

  • Timothy Melzer

    Having respect for all companies and brokers is something we should all have for one another, we are all colleagues. Unfortunately dignity seems to have been forgotten. I wish everyone success in everything that they do and where they choose to work.

  • RobNYC

    Compass is the it firm right now because it has investor money. They all become the same eventually.

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