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HomeServices asks Supreme Court to apply arbitration to Sitzer suit | Black Kite Express

Respondent to the Commission’s complaint HomeServices of America he is asking United States Supreme Court to hear his argument that the Eighth Circuit wrongly rejected arbitration agreements with unnamed class members in the Sitzer/Burnett commission lawsuit.

In late October 2023, a Missouri jury found HomeServices of America, as well as Keller Williams and the National Association of Realtors, responsible for collusion to artificially inflate the commissions of real estate agents. Keller Williams settled this lawsuit and others for $70 million last week, after RE/MAX and Anywherewho had also been named as defendants but reached a settlement before the start of the trial.

In a court document filed Friday, HomeServices of America told the Supreme Court that each HomeServices of America customer contract states that the “signatories may arbitrate any claim or dispute arising from the contract.” However, the plaintiffs who signed the contract sued a non-signatory parent company of the signatory brokerages, which “alleged liability based on the non-signatory’s relationship with its subsidiary.” Because of this, HomeServices said it was seeking to compel arbitration to determine whether the plaintiffs’ claims are arbitrable.

“The Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) requires courts to enforce arbitration agreements ‘on their terms,’ including agreements that require arbitration of ‘initial issues’ concerning whether a particular claim should be arbitrated.” , states the document.

HomeServices claims that the Eighth Circuit violated this principle “when it decided for itself whether plaintiffs’ antitrust claims against HomeServices are subject to arbitration. There is no doubt that the plaintiffs agreed to contracts that included mandatory arbitration provisions. Those contracts require the arbitrator, not the court, to resolve disputes over the “interpretation” and “execution” of the contracts. But rather than enforcing those provisions by ordering arbitration, the Eighth Circuit interpreted the terms of the contracts under state law and concluded that the contracts did not require the plaintiffs to arbitrate claims against HomeServices, the indirect parent of the real estate brokerages that They signed the arbitration. agreements with the plaintiffs.

Under Missouri state law, HomeServices of America would have had to have been named as a third-party beneficiary in client contracts and was not, meaning HomeServices cannot compel arbitration, the brokerage argued. HomeServices first filed its motion to compel arbitration in March 2020, less than a year after the lawsuit was originally filed.

Because of what HomeServices called the Eighth Circuit’s “misguided approach” to this arbitration issue, defendant believes the court’s ruling should be reversed.

“Despite waiving their right to pursue class action litigation against HomeServices, plaintiffs obtained a $1.8 billion verdict, which they seek to triple,” the filing states. “The petition should be granted and the Eighth Circuit should reverse.”

In an emailed statement, Chris Kelly, executive vice president of HomeServices, said the case could have “far-reaching implications for the validity of arbitration clauses in the United States.”

“HomeServices filed a Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States requesting a review of the determinations made by the trial court and the Eighth Circuit regarding our right to pursue arbitration as a contractually agreed upon method to resolve any dispute.” Kelly wrote. “As we explained in the filing, there is no doubt that the contracts at the heart of this matter include mandatory arbitration provisions, meaning these issues should have been reviewed by an arbitrator, not a court. This appeal highlights a substantial inconsistency among circuit courts regarding the interpretation of arbitration agreements and delegation clauses. By bringing this matter to the Supreme Court, we intend not only to seek a resolution for this specific case, but also to ensure uniform application of the Federal Arbitration Act throughout the country, thereby preserving the integrity and intended function of arbitration agreements. ”.

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