HomeServices of America pushes forward in broker commissions lawsuit

Brokerage filed motion to request a new trial

HomeServices of America File For New Trial
HomeServices' Gino Blefari (Blefari via Facebook, Getty)

HomeServices of America is taking on the battle over broker commissions solo. 

The brokerage requested a new trial in the landmark antitrust lawsuit known as Sitzer/Burnett, according to a motion filed on Sunday with the federal court in Missouri’s Western District. 

The motion is the firm’s latest move in the lawsuit, which accused the National Association of Realtors of colluding with the nation’s largest brokerages to hike agents’ compensation. The jury ruled against the defendants in October, awarding the homeseller plaintiffs $1.8 billion in damages. 

The new trial request comes just four days after the judge rejected HomeServices’ motion to decertify the class, which would have prevented the case from continuing as a group lawsuit. 

HomeServices is now the last defendant standing after NAR agreed to settle the case in exchange for a $418 million payout and changes to the commission-sharing rule challenged by the lawsuit. 

In the motion, HomeServices’ attorneys argued the jury’s decision and judgment amount was not consistent with the evidence provided by the plaintiffs. The brokerage’s lawyer claimed the judge should allow for a new trial based on  “pervasive and prejudicial misconduct” by the plaintiffs’ attorney and the court’s decisions to admit or omit certain pieces of evidence. 

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

The evidence in question includes the plaintiff’s expert witness testimony, which HomeServices’ attorneys called “speculative, contradictory, and unfounded.”

“Dr. Schulman’s implausible opinions—including that not a single seller broker would have offered compensation to a single buyer broker, and no buyer would have used a buyer broker, if NAR’s rule did not exist—were flatly contradicted by the evidence admitted at trial, including the plaintiffs’ own testimony,” a spokesperson for HomeServices wrote in an emailed statement.

HomeServices first requested a new trial in January, along with NAR and Keller Williams,who were at the time still defendants in the lawsuit. 

After NAR agreed to settle, the trade group withdrew all of the actions filed after the trial. HomeServices submitted its latest request for a new trial after the judge gave the brokerage three days to refile the documents in the wake of NAR’s exit.

Keller Williams agreed to pay $70 million to settle the lawsuit in February, following Anywhere Real Estate and RE/MAX which entered into their own agreements with the plaintiffs before the trial with amounts totaling roughly $138 million. 

Read more