COURT REPORT: HomeServices Appeals to Supreme Court; More Stays are in Motion; Florida Law Sees Limited Injunction

As copycat lawsuits of Burnett appear right and left throughout the real estate industry, major companies are pursuing legal avenues to overturn Burnett and thereby end all copy suits before they begin. While this occurs, many suits are seeing stays in their proceedings due to settlements in other cases such as Burnett and Moherl.

Outside of the sphere of commission lawsuits, a specific housing policy approved in Florida back in May is currently under fire for perpetuating housing discrimination, and has received a limited injunction from the Federal appeals court.

HomeServices urges the Supreme Court’s involvement

In a recent 49-page filing, HomeServices requested that the Supreme Court overrule the decision that allowed the Burnett trial to move forward, and subsequently all copycat trials the industry is currently facing.

HomeServices Executive Vice President Chris Kelly told RISMedia that the appeal is “very focused and specific,” and cuts to the heart of a “substantial inconsistency” that transcends these specific cases.

HomeServices is pursuing several legal avenues post-Burnett, with this specific appeal looking to see the Eighth Circuit reserve their ruling that contracts that include mandatory arbitration provisions in listing agreements did not prevent recent homesellers from suing big brokerages or franchisors.

A reversal would put an arbitrator in charge of deciding arbitration, which could potentially upend the Burnett verdict and any other class-action claims, such as the copycat suits. 

Stays are filed/approved in two cases

Grace vs. NAR, which is still in its initial filing stages, has had a judge approve a joint motion to stay proceedings in order to allow defendant Keller Williams to respond to the plaintiff’s amended complaint no earlier than May 23, 2024. 

This is the same deadline set for defendants RE/MAX and Anywhere Real Estate in the court’s Jan. 23 order, as all three companies reached settlements Moherl and Burnett that are currently pending. 

The pending settlements prevent members of the settlement class from prosecuting any actions against any of the three companies, and the May deadline leaves time for the settlements to resolve and the case to continue.

Similarly, Nosalek v. MLS Property Information Network defendants Anywhere, Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Sotheby’s International, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and ERA have filed a motion to stay for the same reasons as Grace vs. NAR.

This motion has yet to be approved, however likely will be as the defendants are under the same restrictions as seen in Grace vs. NAR.

Controversial Florida law received limited injunction

Senate Bill (SB) 264—which restricts the sale or purchase of property in Florida by or/to citizens of countries including China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela in order to prevent influence from the Chinese Communist Party—received a limited injunction on Feb. 1.

The Federal Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit agreed with the law’s opponents that the law is tantamount to housing discrimination. They cited the law’s violations of the 14th Amendment’s protection against discrimination and “Anti-Chinese language” by Florida state officials. 

The injunction, however, is limited as it only applies to two specific suits against it: Shen and Zhiming Xu.

Shen v. Simpson was filed by four Chinese citizens and Multi-Choice Realty, and was previously declined back in August but was then elevated to a higher court, leading to the current injunction.

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