Judge upholds $4M verdict in Raveis-Elliman broker-poaching case

Elliman sued Raveis in 2015 for hiring former manager, 10 brokers

New York /
Dec.December 12, 2017 03:30 PM

Howard Lorber and Bill Raveis

A New York state judge has upheld a nearly $4 million verdict against William Raveis Real Estate, after a jury said the suburban firm poached a manager and 10 agents from rival Douglas Elliman.

The Dec. 11 ruling stems from a lawsuit filed in 2015 by Douglas Elliman, in which it alleged Raveis hired its former manager, Lisa Theiss, and conspired with her to lure “top producing” agents to Raveis’ new office in Armonk, New York.

In June, a jury sided with Elliman and awarded the firm $5 million in damages — including $2.5 million in punitive damages and another $2.25 million for breach of fiduciary duty and tortious interference with contract. Raveis subsequently sought to reduce the verdict.

On Monday, Judge Alan Scheinkman upheld the $2.5 million in punitive damages but reduced the $2.25 million verdict to $1.3 million. The judge also said Elliman did not have to pay Theiss a $40,000 bonus she sought for her work in 2015, before she jumped to Raveis.

“The actions undertaken by Raveis go far beyond simply recruiting away at-will employees,” wrote Scheinkman in his Dec. 11 ruling. “Raveis intentionally and purposefully recruited the office manager, Theiss, and had her remain in Elliman’s employ, while, with her assistance, Raveis recruited her subordinates.”

In a statement, Elliman executives said they were pleased by the ruling.

“The jury found that Raveis and Theiss had unlawfully schemed to harm Elliman in Westchester, and the court has now upheld that determination,” said Mark Lerner, an attorney at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP who represented Elliman.

For its part, Raveis said it is “gratified” the court reduced the verdict and pledged to appeal the judgment.

The Dec. 11 ruling was just the latest chapter in the ongoing battle between the two firms, which have expanded into each others’ territory in recent years.

Back in 2014, Raveis tapped former Rutenberg Realty principals, Paul Purcell and Kathy Braddock, to head up its inaugural foray into New York City. That same year, Elliman opened up shop in Greenwich, Connecticut, followed by Westchester in 2015.

“They’ll eventually be out of Westchester,” Bill Raveis told The Real Deal at the time.


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
John Giannone and Jac Credaroli (Credit: iStock)
Two Elliman agents launch platform to provide renters, buyers and sellers up to $50K in unsecured loans
Two Elliman agents launch platform to provide renters, buyers and sellers up to $50K in unsecured loans
Jacob Sudhoff and Scott Durkin (Credit: Sudhoff Companies, Emily Assiran, iStock)
Douglas Elliman is coming to Texas
Douglas Elliman is coming to Texas
Douglas Elliman chairman Howard Lorber (Credit: Getty Images and iStock)
Elliman’s revenue rose 18%, after sales frenzy to avoid New York’s new transfer tax
Elliman’s revenue rose 18%, after sales frenzy to avoid New York’s new transfer tax
781 Fifth Avenue and Howard Lorber
Full 17th floor at Sherry-Netherland asks $30 million
Full 17th floor at Sherry-Netherland asks $30 million
A photo illustration of Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine (Getty, Office of Mark Levine)
Map: Here’s a treasure trove of Manhattan resi development sites
Map: Here’s a treasure trove of Manhattan resi development sites
(Photo Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)
New listings in Manhattan, Brooklyn rise for first time in 4 months
New listings in Manhattan, Brooklyn rise for first time in 4 months
(Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)
Signs of life for Hamptons, North Fork markets
Signs of life for Hamptons, North Fork markets
Albany buildings
How Albany is dealing with its 1K vacant buildings
How Albany is dealing with its 1K vacant buildings
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...