Injunction filed in realty rivals’ court battle

May.May 03, 2013 06:00 PM

Concierge Auctions, the Manhattan-based luxury home seller, filed for an injunction in a Florida court against rival Grand Estates Auction Co., alleging the firm has interfered in its business with One Sotheby’s International Realty.

The motion comes five months after Concierge sued Grand Estates, based in Charlotte, N.C., in a Palm Beach County court alleging that Grand Estates conspired to ruin its business relationship with Sotheby’s and other firms. The suit comes less than two weeks after Grand Estates filed a civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Practices Act, known as RICO, suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Concierge, alleging it used sham buyers to inflate its sales volume.

“They got caught with their hand in the till; now they’re using this phony RICO complaint as a basis for more relief,” said Robert Wolf, an attorney with Moses & Singer in New York, which is defending Concierge in the New York lawsuit, to The Real Deal.

In a suit filed Dec. 11 seeking $15,000 in relief, Concierge claimed that Grand Estates engaged in a campaign to defame Concierge and discourage Sotheby’s from partnering with the company as its preferred auction house by emailing Sotheby’s agents false claims that Concierge was involved in illegal and deceptive business practices.

The injunction motion also says, citing depositions, that two couples named as plaintiffs in the case, who Grand Estates had alleged were defrauded by Concierge, were either not aware of the RICO suit or had never complained about Concierge Auction’s business practices.

The Real Deal has not been able to independently confirm the content of the depositions.

Concierge was founded in 2008 by Chad Roffers, the former owner of Sky Sotheby’s International Realty, a franchise brokerage in Sarasota, Fla.

Lawyers for Grand Estates claim the injunction filing is highly unusual given the length of time since the original lawsuit.

“It appears as though they’re filing this motion as a defense to the federal motion filed in New York,” said attorney Jeremy Slusher, who is representing Grand Estates in the Florida case. “If this was an emergency they would file a motion for temp injunction six months ago.”

A spokesman for Sotheby’s was not immediately available for comment.

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