One of the nation’s largest real estate companies is in line for a nearly $5 million payout after a jury found that a rival agency poached a dozen agents from the company.
Earlier this week, a jury in New York Supreme Court, Westchester County, ruled in favor of Douglas Elliman Real Estate and ordered William Raveis Real Estate to pay $4.75 million in a lawsuit stemming from a new office that William Raveis opened up directly across the street from a Douglas Elliman branch in Westchester Country, New York.
According to details provided by Douglas Elliman, the company sued William Raveis Real Estate and Lisa Theiss, who managed Elliman's Armonk branch office until 2015.
Around that same time, William Raveis opened up a new office across the street from Douglas Elliman’s office.
And after a four-week trial, the jury found that while Theiss was still the manager of the Elliman branch, she and William Raveis conspired to unlawfully move a dozen sales agents, including Elliman’s four top producers in the office, to Raveis’ new office.
The jury found Theiss liable for breach of fiduciary duty, while Raveis was found liable for aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, and both Theiss and Raveis were found liable for tortious interference with business relations.
The jury returned a $2.25 million verdict in Elliman’s favor, along with $2.5 million in additional punitive damages.
In a statement, Howard Lorber, chairman of Douglas Elliman Realty, said that the company is obviously pleased with the jury’s decision.
“I am extremely pleased that the jury saw fit to rectify the egregious and outrageous actions of William Raveis Real Estate,” Lorber said. “Such deception does not serve our industry and it is my hope that today's verdict will help deter others from similar practices.”
The Real Deal reports that William Raveis plans to appeal the jury’s decision.