Christie’s NJ affiliate claims “big win” in agent-poaching dispute with Compass

Compass fires back, calling the suit an “unsuccessful” attempt to “stifle” agent movement

Tri-State /
Jun.June 17, 2021 10:30 AM
From left: Mathew Chapman, Michele Kowal, Maryanne Elsaesser and Rhonda Battifarano (NJ Home Navigators)

From left: Mathew Chapman, Michele Kowal, Maryanne Elsaesser and Rhonda Battifarano (NJ Home Navigators)

An ongoing agent-poaching lawsuit between a Christie’s affiliate and Compass has yet to be resolved — but that hasn’t stopped both sides from claiming victory.

Christie’s International Real Estate’s Ridgewood, New Jersey-based affiliate celebrated a preliminary victory against Compass — and four former agents who jumped to the rival brokerage earlier this year — after the defendants signed a consent order certifying that they do not possess confidential Christie’s information.

The Christie’s affiliate sued Compass and its former agents in May, accusing Compass of soliciting the agents and unlawfully encouraging them to breach their existing contracts.

The court order, filed earlier this month, also prohibits the agents from contacting old clients or attempting to recruit any other Christie’s agents or employees to join them until April 2023.

Michael Hensley, the attorney representing Christie’s, called it a “big win” for his client.

“Now that we have won our injunctive relief, our focus will be to recover every dollar in damages permitted under the law,” he wrote in an email.

The firm sought monetary damages and injunctive relief in the form of a court order that would prohibit Compass and the agents from continuing to allegedly violate the contract terms, misappropriate confidential company information and contact former clients.

But the court didn’t grant Christie’s application for relief against Compass’ recruitment activities. On Tuesday, the court denied a request from Christie’s for an order prohibiting Compass from encouraging or instructing agents to violate their contracts or misappropriate trade secrets, court documents show.

Pointing to the denial, a Compass spokesperson called Christie’s suit an “unsuccessful” attempt to “stifle” agent movement.

“Compass has never had any interest in Christie’s confidential information, nor has Compass ever used such information,” the spokesperson said. “What we do have an interest in, however, is an agent’s right to choose the brokerage that is best for them.”

The case, filed in civil court in Bergen County, is ongoing. It’s one of nine lawsuits filed against Compass (or newly-recruited Compass agents) by rival brokerages so far this year, though two have since settled.

 
 






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