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Judges deny plaintiffs’ request to consolidate commission lawsuits

The Multidistrict Litigation panel denied the request on Friday, but they did not rule out the possibility of consolidating in the future

The Multidistrict Litigation panel has denied a motion for nine of the commission lawsuits to consolidate.

In a decision filed on Friday, Judge Karen Caldwell, who is the chair of the MDL panel, wrote that after hearing arguments from all parties involved, the panel concluded that “centralization is not necessary at this time for the convenience of the parties and witnesses or to further the just and efficient conduct of the litigation.”

Caldwell also noted the National Association of Realtors settlement agreement, writing that “given the broad contours of this new settlement agreement and the changing landscape of the parties’ positions on centralization, we think it wise to deny centralization at this time.

“The settlement may well resolve at least some claims in this litigation, if not many,” she added. “We cannot speculate on the number of parties and claims that will remain once this and any other settlements are approved.”

Caldwell was one of six judges who helped reach this decision. The other judges on the panel included Matthew Kennelly, Roger Benitez, Madeline Cox Arleo, David Norton, and Dale Kimball.

Despite their denial of the motion to consolidate, the judges did not rule out the possibility of future consolidation.

“After settlement proceedings conclude, and it becomes evident how many claims and parties still remain and the extent to which they overlap, if at all, it may be that formal centralization is needed or, perhaps, informal coordination efforts can adequately address any duplicative pretrial proceedings,” the filing states.

In late December 2023, the plaintiffs in the Gibson and Umpa suits, which were both filed in Mississippi, asked the court if their suits, along with Grace (filed in California), Burton, (filed in South Carolina), March (filed in New York), Spring Way (filed in Pennsylvania), Phillips (filed in Georgia), QJ Team (filed in Texas), and Martin (filed in Texas) could consolidate under the jurisdiction of Judge Stephen Bough, who oversaw the Sitzer/Burnett commission lawsuit trial.

In their motion, the plaintiffs argued that the nine suits are ripe for consolidation and transfer because they most of their defendants overlap, involve many of the same questions of fact and that the suits are all in their “infancy,” as all were filed between Oct. 31, 2023, and Dec. 31, 2023.

All nine of the lawsuits alleged that real estate industry players (namely NAR, RE/MAXAnywhereKeller WilliamsHomeServices of AmericaCompasseXp RealtyRedfinDouglas EllimanHoward HannaUnited Real Estate, and Weichert) have colluded via NAR’s Participation Rule to artificially inflate real estate agent commissions.

However, since the motion for consolidation was filed NAR, Keller Williams and Compass have reached nationwide settlement agreements, in addition to the settlements already reached by Anywhere and RE/MAX in 2023.

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