NAR, brokerages call for summary judgment in commissions lawsuit 

Hail Mary filed before Moehrl’s 2024 trial with potential for $40B in damages

NAR, Brokerages Call for Summary Judgment in Moehrl Suit
NAR's Tracy Kasper, Keller Williams' Gary Keller, HomeServices of America's Gino Blefari (Getty, NAR, Keller Williams, HomeServices of America)

After one landmark ruling against some of the biggest names in residential real estate, the defendants are hoping to tip the decision in another commission case in their favor.

The National Association of Realtors, Keller Williams and HomeServices of America filed separate motions for a summary judgment in a lawsuit known as Moehrl, Inman reported

The trade group and residential brokerages are hoping to avoid a repeat in Illinois of what happened in Missouri in October, when a two-week trial for the Sitzer/Burnett case ended with a jury saying the firms liable for conspiring to keep commissions high.

The firms filed separate, but similar motions, arguing the defendants didn’t conspire to inflate seller costs. The lawsuit pertains to the NAR’s Cooperative Compensation Rule (or Participation Rule), which requires listing agents to offer buyer agents compensation to submit a listing to a Realtor-affiliated multiple listing service.

In the Moehrl suit and several copycat filings, homeseller plaintiffs argue the rule spikes the costs for sellers and violates antitrust law. RE/MAX and Anywhere Real Estate were initially part of both Moehrl and Sitzer/Burnett, but each came to settlements in both cases prior to the Sitzer/Burnett trial.

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NAR and the brokerages probably shouldn’t hold their collective breath for a summary judgment in their favor. The parties tried the same tactic in Sitzer/Burnett, to no avail. That verdict — which the defendants are planning on appealing — carried a $1.8 billion judgment against NAR and the brokerages, which can be increased to more than $5 billion.

The financial consequences of the Moehrl suit could be much worse, as the ruling could lead to home sellers across the nation seeking reimbursement. The damages in the case are estimated at $13.7 billion, which can be trebled to a staggering $41.1 billion.

Moehrl was initially expected to go to trial early next year, but now the case will likely only reach the courtroom in late 2024.

Meanwhile, copycat lawsuits continue to spring in the wake of the Kansas City ruling, as sellers across the nation look to extract compensation from NAR and large brokerages.

Holden Walter-Warner

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