A real estate broker in Kentucky represented by Attorney David Barry today sued the Northern Kentucky Association of Realtors and the Northern Kentucky MLS. The suit seeks an injunction to bar the Realtor association from forcing real estate agents to buy memberships in the association as a condition of belonging to the MLS.
The plaintiff is Sherry Edwards, broker of Florence, Ky.-based Buyer’s Corner Realty. Edwards seeks return of association membership dues from the past four years, which equals about $1,357, according to the complaint. The suit also seeks reimbursement of attorney’s fees.
Edwards has been a buyer’s agent since 1994. She is a charter member of the National Association of Buyer Agents, according to a statement Barry released to the press.
The suit was filed today in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
The 14-page complaint cited the Sherman Antitrust Act, which allows plaintiffs to file for triple damages, costs and attorney’s fees. The suit alleges requiring MLS members to first join the Realtor association in order to join the MLS violates federal antitrust law.
“In nearly every court where it has been challenged, such tying has been critiqued or found to violate antitrust laws,” the suit stated.
The complaint cites judicial decisions in similar lawsuits filed in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Colorado, New Jersey and California. Those decisions invalidated restrictions on MLS access. A case in Long Island, N.Y., failed to make this conclusion, according to Barry.
The Northern Kentucky association could not immediately be reached for comment late in the day today.
Edwards in a statement said she didn’t want to be forced to pay dues to be a member of the Realtor association because she did not agree with the board’s “politics.”
Barry of San Fransisco-based Barry & Associates has filed more lawsuits against Realtor associations than any other attorney in the country. He has racked up a large number of losses with the exception of one case in San Diego that accused the Sandicor MLS of illegal price fixing. Barry attempted repeatedly but unsuccessfully to obtain class action certification in the Sandicor lawsuit.
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