Issues are persevering with to warmth up in Zillow Group’s authorized battle with low cost brokerage REX Houses, because the September 18, 2023, trial date looms ever nearer.
On Friday, Choose Thomas Zilly, the U.S. District Courtroom decide in Seattle overseeing the lawsuit, issued a minute order denying partially and deferring partially Zillow’s movement for abstract judgement within the case.
In mid-June, the three events concerned within the swimsuit, Zillow, REX and the Nationwide Affiliation of Realtors (NAR), all filed motions for summary judgment on at the least some points, if not your entire lawsuit.
Three of REX’s claims Zillow filed motions for abstract judgement on had been denied by Zilly, whereas Zillow’s movement for abstract judgement on REX’s antitrust declare was deferred.
Initially filed by REX in March 2021, the lawsuit alleges that modifications made to Zillow’s web site “unfairly hides sure listings, shrinking their publicity and diminishing competitors amongst actual property brokers.”
Two months prior, in January 2021, Zillow started transferring properties out of its preliminary search outcomes for sellers who selected to not use brokers adhering to the NAR and native a number of itemizing service (MLS) practices.
In January 2022, NAR filed a countersuit claiming that REX makes use of false promoting and deceptive claims to deceive customers in violation of the Lanham Act, however the countersuit was dismissed in late April 2022.
In mid-Might 2022, REX ceased its brokerage operations.
Since then, REX, Zillow and NAR have gone backwards and forwards with submitting varied motions to compel in the course of the discovery section of the trial.
In his minute order filed on Friday, Zilly denied Zillow’s movement for abstract judgement on REX’s Lanham Act declare, REX’s declare for unfair and misleading commerce practices and REX’s defamation declare.
With reference to REX’s Lanham Act declare, Zillow contended that REX can not show that the allegedly false statements in query had been made in “business promoting or promotion,” and that REX can not set up damage or damages. Nevertheless, Zilly felt that Zillow had not demonstrated that REX is unable to fulfill the check for business promoting or promotion.
In its movement for abstract judgement, Zillow additionally claimed that REX’s unfair or misleading commerce practices declare ought to fail if the Lanham Act declare fails. Nevertheless, in accordance with Zilly’s order, REX has pleaded “each the “unfair” and “misleading” prongs” of a shopper safety act (CPA) violation.
“Zillow has not demonstrated that it’s entitled to judgment as a matter of regulation with respect to REX’s CPA declare,” Zilly wrote.
Lastly, Zillow’s movement for abstract judgement on REX’s defamation declare additionally was additionally denied. Within the movement, Zillow argued that REX’s defamation declare fails as a matter of regulation as REX can not show damages, nevertheless, throughout oral arguments REX famous that it solely seeks nominal damages. Zilly denied the movement as he felt that given the file on this declare, “the Courtroom can not decide as a matter of regulation whether or not REX can show the precise malice essential to be entitled to nominal or presumed damages.”
NAR and REX additionally filed motions for abstract judgement on the case in June, however rulings haven’t but been issued.
“We proceed to take care of the claims made in REX’s lawsuit are with out benefit. REX selected to make use of Zillow’s providers to promote their for-sale properties on Zillow – totally free. Zillow has constantly advocated for outdated guidelines to be modified to permit the broader show of all listings on all platforms, together with For Sale By Proprietor and listings from different corporations like REX. Zillow’s enterprise choices had been squarely centered on bettering the info on our web site and the expertise for patrons,” Will Lemke, Zillow’s company communications supervisor, wrote in an electronic mail. “We hope the court docket sees this swimsuit for what it’s: REX seized upon Zillow’s web site design change to cover its personal enterprise failings.”
NAR additionally believes its facet will succeed within the lawsuit.
“Whereas NAR was not a celebration in Zillow’s submitting, we nonetheless imagine the regulation is on our facet and we stay assured we are going to finally prevail,” Mantill Williams, NAR’s vice chairman of communications, wrote in an electronic mail. “NAR tips and native dealer marketplaces create extremely aggressive markets, empower small companies and guarantee equitable residence possession alternatives, superior customer support and better value choices for all patrons and sellers”
Legal professionals for REX didn’t supply touch upon the ruling at the moment.