Sitzer/Burnett filing deadline results in a squall of post-trial motions

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Monday was the final date for parties to file post-trial motions in the Sitzer/Burnett commission lawsuit and litigants took it down to the wire to file their motions. 

The parties had since Oct. 31, 2023, when a Missouri jury found the National Association of Realtors, HomeServices of America, and Keller Williams liable for colluding to artificially inflate real estate agent commissions, to prepare and file these motions. 

HomeServices of America filed three post-trial motions Monday evening. The motions includes a motion for judgement as a matter of law, a motion for a new trial and a motion to decertify the class. 

In its motion for judgement as a matter of law, HomeServices asks the court to set aside the jury’s verdict and damages award, claiming that the evidence presented at the trial was insufficient to prove an antitrust violation. The motion for a new trial claims that the expert testimony used by the plaintiffs to prove their injury and damages case was unreliable and should not have been admitted. Finally, HomeService’s motion to decertify the class, asks the court to decertify the class because it feels that the court cannot rely on common evidence to prove that everyone in the class was harmed by any agreement to impose cooperative compensation. 

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for HomeServices wrote that the motions represent action that the firm believes is necessary to achieve justices and protect the interests of homebuyers. 

“Specifically, these motions make clear that the presented evidence and facts do not substantiate the claims of a conspiracy to enforce the Cooperative Compensation Rule. Furthermore, they do not demonstrate any antitrust impact or injury due to its enforcement. The significant issues related to the flawed verdict must be addressed,” Chris Kelly, a senior vice president at HomeServices of America, said in a statement. “In the face of this verdict’s potential far-reaching consequences for the real estate industry and, more critically, for the consumers we serve, our actions today are a resolute attempt to rectify certain trial issues, rulings, and conclusions that starkly contradict the actual dynamics of real estate transactions.”

Kelly said that the company was concerned about the verdict and the rash of copycat lawsuits that has followed.

“If left unchallenged, the recent verdict could have a chilling effect on the ability of these consumers to purchase a home. Correcting these legal and factual inaccuracies is paramount to show that the ongoing litigation against the real estate industry is misguided. HomeServices of America remains committed to ensuring that all consumers, regardless of their economic status, can access the expert advice and support necessary to make well-informed and beneficial real estate decisions.” 

During the course of the trial, HomeServices filed several motions including those for judgement as a matter of law and a mistrial.

Keller Williams joined HomeServices of America in its motions for a new trial and motion for judgement as a matter of law. The Gary Keller-helmed firm declined to comment beyond what was in the filings. 

As on Monday evening, NAR had not filed any post-trial motions and no motion for injunctive relief had been filed by the plaintiffs. 

In order to allow the defendants and plaintiffs time to file opposition briefs and responses, a final ruling on the injunction is not expected until May of 2024. The three remaining defendants in the lawsuit, NAR, Keller Williams and HomeServices of America have all vowed to appeal the verdict. 

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