In Corcoran v. Compass, court issues restraining order

But judge says "not a chance in hell" at preventing former manager from working for Compass

From left: Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman, Compass President Leonard Steinberg and CEO Robert Reffkin.
From left: Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman, Compass President Leonard Steinberg and CEO Robert Reffkin.

A judge granted a temporary restraining order preventing former Corcoran Group agents who defected to Compass from accessing Corcoran’s listings database.

The order, issued Tuesday after Corcoran sued Compass for “brazenly and intentionally” poaching its agents, was unsealed Friday, according to lawyers involved.

But while the court said Compass’ new hires cannot access Corcoran’s database, the judge did not grant Corcoran’s other requests, namely that former Soho manager Gene Martinez be prevented from working for Compass.

“There is not a chance in hell that I would issue that TRO,” Justice Saliann Scarpulla of the New York Supreme Court said, according to a transcript of the proceedings obtained by The Real Deal.  In a statement, Compass said the decision allows it to operate its business as usual, stating: “The court merely instructed Compass’ personnel to continue complying with existing Compass policies — not accessing others’ listings databases and following non-solicit agreements.”

Corcoran sued Compass last week, as TRD first reported, accusing the startup brokerage of a “multi-front assault” after 51 of its agents defected to Compass. Among those named in the suit was former Park Slope manager Patrick Brennan, as well as Martinez, whose job offer from Compass was introduced as evidence. (The document has since been sealed, but TRD obtained a copy of it before it was sealed.)

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In defense of its motion, Corcoran’s lawyer stated: “It is no accident, no accident that the 28 agents who worked under [Martinez] for so long ended up at Compass’ New York office.”

To that point, Scarpulla upheld non-solicit agreements for the former Corcoran agents who had such agreements.

However, Scarpulla did not grant Corcoran’s request for an expedited discovery. “It’s very important to us to move this as fast as we possibly can to protect our offices,” said Corcoran attorney Richard Scharlat of Dentons US LLP. “The litigation, it seems, is just a cost of doing business with this attack on our company. We think we need to be protected.”

But Scarpulla was having none of it.

“There’s no purpose or reason for me to rush through this as if the barn’s going to burn tomorrow,” Scarpulla said. She added: “Corcoran, the biggest real estate broker in the State of New York is coming to me and saying that we need protection from this new startup company?”