The Real Deal New York

Jury sides with Saunders & Associates in data-hacking case

Firm accused agent Meg Salem of bringing stolen data to Compass in 2015
By E.B. Solomont | February 22, 2018 11:00AM

Andrew Saunders and Meg Salem

A Long Island jury has sided with Saunders & Associates, which took former agent Meg Salem to court over alleged data hacking and breach of contract after she joined Compass in 2015.

The Hamptons-based firm alleged Salem stole thousands of active and inactive listings and other proprietary data from its password-protected database and shared it with the venture-backed firm. Following five days of testimony, the jury returned its verdict in favor of Saunders on Tuesday. But they awarded Saunders just $13,300 in total damages. Salem’s legal team had maintained during the trial that Saunders suffered no damage to the data breaches and use them as an opportunity to hobble Compass, which at the time was struggling to gain a foothold in the Hamptons market.

Robert Folks, Salem’s attorney, said his client is disappointed but weighing her next steps. “In our view, Ms. Salem is still owed unpaid commissions, lost wages and future earnings,” he said. Saunders intentionally tried to wear down Salem “emotionally and financially” to exact revenge, her attorneys claim.

Days after Saunders sued Salem in 2015, she was booted from Compass. Saunders’ original claims also charged Compass and several members of Salem’s team with being complicit in her scheme, which involved using the login and password of other Saunders agents to access its database. Saunders dropped claims against Compass and the others in late 2016. Several of Salem’s former team members at Saunders testified against her.

Last year, Salem filed counterclaims against her former firm and founder Andrew Saunders, alleging the brokerage chief launched a campaign to “blacklist” her from the Hamptons real estate market. She sought $5 million in damages, including $429,777 in unpaid commission and damages.

Neither Saunders or his attorney responded to a request for comment.