Century 21 case to move forward as class-action lawsuit
The Century 21 franchisees are taking Century 21 Real Estate Corp. and its parent company Realogy Corp. (formerly known as Cendant) to trial after the New Jersey Appellate Division choose not to hear the case appeal last week. In 2002, the franchisees filed a class-action lawsuit against Century 21 Real Estate Corp. and its parent company for alleged noncompliance with contract agreements. In an August ruling, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Robert Brennan approved the motion to go forward as a class-action, saying the franchisees had an interest in ensuring that Cendant abides by the franchise agreement. Cendant sequentially filed a motion to appeal that was denied last week. Century 21 was purchased by Cendant in 1995. The complaints referenced noncompliance from the time Cendant acquired Century 21 to when the case was filed. Century 21 franchisees contributed annually to a National Advertising Fund that it alleges was supposed to be used for national marketing of the franchisees. The fund, which derived $40 million annually, was instead used for Cendant's own benefit it is claimed -- and also supported Century 21 competitors Coldwell Banker and ERA. Coldwell and ERA are wholly owned subsidiaries of Cendant. "As a result of Cendant's actions, Century 21 franchisees have suffered damages that may total in the hundreds of millions of dollars," said Robert Schachter, plaintiff attorney from Zwerling, Schachter & Zwerling. Spokesman for Century 21 corporate, Matt Gentile, denies the allegations made against the corporation said in an official statement. "We categorically reject the claims made by plaintiffs' attorneys and will continue to aggressively defend this case." Under the ruling last week, the case will continue as a class-action lawsuit, but a trial date has not been set. Write to Christine Ricciardi.