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Batton plaintiffs look to block final approval of commission lawsuit settlements

With 24 hours to spare, the Batton plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order

The plaintiffs in the Batton 1 homebuyer commission lawsuit are making a last-minute effort to prevent the court from granting final approval to the commission lawsuit settlement agreements reached by Anywhere, Keller Williams and RE/MAX on Thursday.

The Batton plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on Wednesday in Chicago’s U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division, where the case was originally filed in January 2021. The motion seeks to prevent the defendants from filing a proposed order granting final approval of the settlement agreements.

In the motion, the Batton plaintiffs argue that the three settling brokerage firms “did not reveal their intent to release homebuyer claims” until Friday and didn’t reveal that they planned to specifically prevent the Batton 1 plaintiffs from pursuing their claims until Tuesday.

When the settlement agreements were initially announced, it was generally understood that they only applied to claims brought by home sellers. However, in court documents filed last week, Anywhere explicitly stated that as part of the settlement, the firm “insisted that the people in the Settlement Class release all their antitrust claims arising from the same alleged conspiracy, including claims they could assert as either sellers or buyers. Anywhere had no interest in paying the same people twice for the same alleged antitrust conspiracy, once for claims based on their home sales and another time for claims based on their home purchases.”

RE/MAX’s filing was not as explicit, with the firm simply stating that the “settlement agreement resolves on a nationwide basis all actual and potential claims for damages and injunctive relief against RMLLC and its affiliates by any member of the Settlement Class that engaged a residential real estate broker or agent and paid cooperative compensation in connection with a residential home transaction.”

For its part, Keller Williams, makes no mention of the homebuyer lawsuits or the Batton plaintiffs in its filing, only noting that since its settlement agreement was reached months after those reached by the other two firms, it also resolves the claims in the Umpa commission suit.

In their motion, the Batton plaintiffs note that the initial settlement agreements, which have already received preliminary approval from the court, do not include language identifying the Batton plaintiffs or homebuyer claims as being released, and that the notices sent out to class members do not mention the Batton suit or homebuyer claims.

On the website related to the class notifications, it states that to be “eligible to receive the benefits of the Settlements, you must have: (1) sold a home during the Eligible Date Range; (2) listed the home that was sold on a multiple listing service anywhere in the United States; and (3) paid a commission to any real estate brokerage in connection with the sale of the home.“

Due to these developments, the Batton plaintiffs state that the temporary restraining order is “urgently needed.”

“The Proposed Order, if entered, will irreparably harm homebuyer Plaintiffs and putative class members who both bought and sold homes in two ways: (1) it improperly enjoins them from continuing to litigate their claims in this case before this Court; and (2) releases their claims without additional compensation, let alone adequate notice and representation for the unique claims held by homebuyers,” the Batton plaintiffs’ motion reads.

Keller Williams did not wish to comment on this news, while RE/MAX and Anywhere did not return a request for comment.

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