NAR asks for new trial in latest Sitzer/Burnett commission suit filings

Like the corporate brokerage defendants in the Sitzer/Burnett commission lawsuit, the National Association of Realtors also filed post-trial motions. The motions were filed on Monday prior to the filing deadline, but they did not appear on the court docket until Tuesday evening.

The trade group joined defendants HomeServices of America and Keller Williams in filing motions for judgement as a matter of law and a new trial. In its filings, NAR said it supported the arguments laid out in Keller Williams’ and HomeServices’ filing, but it also filed its own suggestions in support of the motions.

In regard to its motion for judgement as a matter of law, NAR claims that the plaintiffs’ case was “rife with legal defects,” and that the trade group’s Participation Rule “does not restrain trade in any way (let alone in any way ever recognized as per se anticompetitive), NAR did not agree with the other Defendants on anything pertinent to Plaintiffs’ allegations, and Plaintiffs made no effort to calculate a legally defensible damages amount.”

In addition, NAR said that the plaintiffs failed to “present the jury with evidence that NAR conspired with another Defendant to enforce the [Participation Rule].”

In the trade organization’s motion for a new trial, it claimed that “the previous trial resulted in a miscarriage of justice through a verdict against the weight of the evidence, an excessive damage award, and legal errors at trial.” NAR’s chief complaints about the trial were that, in its view, the jury instructions were prejudicial and misstated the standard for antitrust liability, and that the rule of reason and not per se should have been used in determining the judgement.

“NAR has filed motions asking the Court to set aside the trial verdict and enter judgment as a matter of law in favor of NAR or, at the very least, order a new trial,” Mantill Williams, NAR’s vice president of communications, wrote in an email. “These motions are part of the post-trial process and detail NAR’s arguments that the verdict was wrong and defied precedent, logic, and the evidence. As detailed in our briefing, we believe we have solid grounds for our continuing objections to the verdict.”

In order to allow the defendants and plaintiffs time to file opposition briefs and responses, a final ruling on the injunction is not expected until May of 2024. The three remaining defendants in the lawsuit, NAR, Keller Williams and HomeServices of America have all vowed to appeal the verdict.