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Sitzer plaintiffs expected to rest their case today

The first week of the Sitzer trial concluded with testimony from economic and legal experts

The first week of the much-anticipated Sitzer/Burnett class action buyer broker commission antitrust lawsuit concluded with the testimony of economic and legal experts.

On Friday, Craig Schulman, an associate professor of economics at Texas A&M, took the stand again to be cross-examined by Ethan Glass, the defense attorney for the National Association of Realtors, according to reports from Inman News. Schulman had previously testified on Thursday and was questioned by Michael Ketchmark, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs.

During his testimony on Thursday, Schulman stated that NAR’s Participation Rule, which is central to the lawsuit, was “one of the clearest cases of price-fixing and collusion [he has] ever seen.” Under cross examination on Friday, he clarified that the legal question of whether there was a conspiracy between the defendants was not under his purview, stating: “That’s the job of the jury.”

Roger Alford, a law professor from Notre Dame, was also called to testify on Friday. During his testimony, Alford said that NAR’s Participation Rule “is not designed to benefit home sellers.” He also alleged that it was created to protect the trade group from non-MLS affiliated brokers, according to a tweet from Real Estate News reporter Austin Alonzo.

Monday’s proceedings are expected to include the video footage of the depositions of Rosalie Warner, vice president of network services for HSF Affiliates; Darrell King, a former COO and compliance officer for Keller Williams; Cliff Niersbach, a former associate general counsel for NAR; and Kevin Goffsteinpresident of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Alliance Real Estate and Alliance Title Group. Todd Reyonlds, an Australian real estate expert, who also testified on Friday, is expected to return to the stand on Monday.

Ketchmark is expected to rest the plaintiffs’ case by the end of the day Monday. Through the first week of the trial, the plaintiffs’ central argument has been that despite the defendants having antitrust rules and regulations in place, documents from the firms presented during the trial, including agent training scripts discussing commissions, suggest that the firms are knowingly violating their own rules.

While the defense attorneys for all three defendants present at the trial (RE/MAX and Anywhere have both filed settlement agreements and are not present in the Kansas City courtroom) and the defendants themselves have been quick to state that commissions were only mentioned in training scripts and documents as examples and models, the full picture of the defense’s argument has yet to be made clear.

With Glass expected to kick off the defense arguments for NAR, a clearer picture should emerge in the coming days.

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