Real Estate

The defendants in the Nosalk Commission case, the plaintiffs, joined against the DOJ.

Defendant MLS PIN and plaintiffs Jennifer Nosalk, Randy Hirshorn and Tracy Hirshorn asked a district court judge for permission to respond to the DOJ’s Statement of Interest filed in the lawsuit.

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Plaintiffs and multiple listing service defendants in a major antitrust commission lawsuit are joining forces against a common enemy: the U.S. Department of Justice.

On Wednesday, plaintiffs Jennifer Nosalk, Randy Hirshorn and Tracy Hirshorn and defendant MLS Property Information Network (MLS PIN) filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts for leave to respond to the DOJ’s Statement of Interest filed in the lawsuit. asked for 15.

In that filing, the federal agency rejected the rule changes in the proposed settlement between the plaintiffs and MLS PIN and instead sought “an injunction that would absolutely prohibit sellers from offering commissions to buyer brokers.” , thus promoting competition and innovation among buyers. Brokers as buyers will be given the option to communicate directly with their brokers.

While the plaintiffs and MLS PIN have previously gone back to the drawing board and revived their settlement after the DOJ raised concerns about the deal, it seems likely that the antitrust enforcer’s specific objections will be heard. Later, they decided to fight instead.

“Plaintiffs and MLS PIN dispute the factual and legal arguments made in the DoJ’s Statement of Interest,” attorneys for both said. Joint Court Filings.

“Accordingly, Plaintiffs and MLS PIN respectfully request an opportunity to file separate responses to the DoJ’s Statement of Interest no later than March 28, 2024.”

March 28 is the date for oral arguments before a multidistrict litigation (MDL) panel. On December 27, attorneys for the plaintiffs in Gibson and Umpa, the other similar lawsuits, requested that the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidate any lawsuits asserting similar claims across the country—including this one. Also included would be the Nosalk case — in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. Sitzer was the first court to hear a similar case Burnett, which ended in a multibillion-dollar verdict for the plaintiffs who sold the home.

Nosalik’s judge, Judge Patty B. Sarris, stayed the case on Feb. 14 pending the MDL panel’s decision, but temporarily reopened it the next day to allow the DOJ to submit its statement of interest.

“Plaintiffs and MLS do not expect the PIN MDL panel to issue a decision on or before this date. [March 28]And understand that the stay on this proceeding, including the settlement of the MLS PIN and all proceedings related thereto, will remain in effect for at least several more weeks until the MDL Panel does so,” the joint court said. The filing said.

“However, Plaintiffs and MLS PIN propose to submit their responses by March 28 so that, once the MDL Panel renders a decision and should the stay in this Court thereafter be lifted, the DoJ, the parties, And this court will be in a position to proceed. Quickly.”

Moehrl and Sitzer, like the Federal Commission Burnett, Nosalk seeks class action status and alleges that the sharing of commissions between listing and buyer brokers inflates sellers’ costs and constitutes a conspiracy to suppress trade, a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

However, Nosalek differs from many other suits in one important respect: The National Association of Realtors is not named as a defendant, while the MLS PIN is. MLS, which has a full-time staff of 60 employees, boasts approximately 46,000 subscribers in six New England states and New York.

The Nosalek case, like a growing number of antitrust cases around the country, challenges a rule that requires brokers to create blanket listings, paying buyers’ brokers for submitting listings to the MLS. A unilateral offer of Most of the suits target NAR’s version of that rule, called the Cooperative Compensation Rule or Participation Rule, which is in effect for all Realtor-affiliated MLSs nationwide and thus has drawn the DOJ’s attention.

Whether plaintiffs and MLS pins will specifically oppose the DOJ’s call to double the commissions remains to be seen. A week after the DOJ filing, NAR broke its silence on the agency’s proposal, saying it would harm consumers by making it more expensive for homebuyers to get qualified representation and reducing access to fair housing. will

Read the joint court filing:

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