A table with the scales of justice, a blank notebook and a judge's gavel.

No quick judgment for home sellers in commissions case 

The judge in Sitzer/Burnett declined the plaintiffs’ motion to enter a $5.4 billion award, saying other motions and settlements need to be finalized.

April 15, 2024
2 minutes

The judge overseeing the Sitzer/Burnett lawsuit isn't ready to assign damages as litigation continues, with post-verdict motions and settlements to be finalized in the coming weeks.

In denying the motion from Missouri home sellers to enter a $5.4 billion award — a total equal to three times the $1.8 billion awarded by the jury in October, as antitrust law allows damages to be tripled — U.S. District Judge Stephen Bough said he was not yet issuing a final judgment for HomeServices of America, the only defendant that hasn't settled.

Bough also didn't seem convinced that waiting a few more months would cause hardship for the plaintiffs. In responding to the initial request for judgment, HomeServices had argued that the "Plaintiffs will lose nothing by waiting until all claims are resolved."

What the plaintiffs had asked for: The ruling came fairly quickly following final responses submitted by the home sellers on April 11. The plaintiffs had argued that HomeServices was seeking to delay the judgment, depriving "the Class of many millions of dollars in interest to which it is entitled."

The home sellers also argued that while the details of the settlements have not been finalized, the total amount was final and should be entered into the judgment. According to the plaintiffs, HomeServices should pay $4.7 billion of the $5.4 billion in damages after subtracting the settlement amounts agreed to by the other defendants

What the brokerage had to say: HomeServices of America was pleased by the court's conclusion that an entry was premature, said Chris Kelly, executive vice president at the brokerage.

"There are several outstanding issues yet to be resolved, including our post-trial motion for a judgment as a matter of law and our motion for a new trial," Kelly said. 

"Additionally, the court acknowledged that the pending settlements have not received final approval, and objections to these settlements must still be addressed. These factors significantly influence any final judgment, and it is essential that they are resolved before any judgment is entered."

Busy court day for HomeServices: The decision comes on the same day the Supreme Court declined to hear a motion by HomeServices to have the Sitzer/Burnett verdict thrown out over an arbitration issue.

What's next: Post-verdict motion responses are due to Bough by April 23. A hearing to finalize the settlement agreements with Anywhere, RE/MAX and Keller Williams is scheduled for May 9.

Get the latest real estate news delivered to your inbox.