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Legal Action Funding Case Report - Midyear 2013

May 24, 2013

Below are summaries of the case funding recommendations made by NAR's Legal Action Committee, which were subsequently approved by the Board of Directors at the 2013 Midyear Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo, held in Washington, D.C., during May 2013.

NAR provide funding of $ 140,000 in three of the five cases for which assistance was requested, as follows:

a.         Regional Multiple Listing Service of Minnesota, Inc. d/b/a NorthstarMLS v. American Home Realty Network, Inc. (MN). The Regional Multiple Listing Service of Minnesota, Inc. (RMLS) sued American Home Realty Network, Inc. (AHRN) for copyright infringement of RMLS listing data and photos, which appears on AHRN's "Neighborcity.com" website without a license or other permission from RMLS. AHRN filed a counterclaim alleging that RMLS violated the antitrust laws by conspiring with NAR and others to withhold listings from AHRN or adversely affecting AHRN in other ways.

NAR will contribute to the legal expenses incurred by RMLS in connection with its copyright infringement claims against AHRN.  Click here to read a summary of an earlier ruling in this case.

b.         Columbia Board of REALTORS® v. City of Columbia, MO (MO). The Columbia, Missouri, City Council adopted an ordinance that requires real estate licensees involved in a sale or lease of residential real property in Columbia to provide to the buyer or lessee "information regarding the zoning district in which the property is located and the applicable occupancy limitations" contained in the law. CBOR has sought rescission of the ordinance, thus far unsuccessfully, and intends to challenge the ordinance in litigation on several grounds.

NAR will contribute to the legal expenses incurred by the Columbia Board of REALTORS® contingent on confirmation by the Legal Action Committee leadership that the filed complaint presents issues of significance to real estate professionals.

c.         Auer, et al. v. Keller Williams Home Town, et al. (OH). Defendant Jamie Paliath was an independent contractor sales agent of broker Keller Williams Home Town. Paliath represented plaintiff Torri Auer in the purchase of several properties. Auer sued Paliath, alleging that she fraudulently misrepresented the value of some of those properties and/or the rental income they could earn. The District Court instructed the jury that Home Town was also liable for the damages incurred by Auer if Paliath had committed fraud, without also requiring the jury to consider whether Paliath's fraudulent conduct was within the scope of her duties as a sales agent for Home Town. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Paliath was acting within the scope of her duties as a real estate agent simply because Home Town had been paid a commission on the sales.

NAR will file an amicus curiae brief if the Ohio Supreme Court accepts the case for review. That brief will argue that the Court of Appeals incorrectly held that a broker is liable for an agent's fraud in connection with a real estate transaction solely because the broker received a commission in the transaction.  Click here to read a summary of the appellate court’s decision.