BrokerageIndustry News

$5.5M in refunds settles kickbacks lawsuit

50,000 checks sent over alleged overpayment for hazard reports

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Refund checks are in the mail to more than 50,000 Californians who allegedly overpaid for natural hazard disclosure reports because the real estate brokerages that listed their homes were taking kickbacks from the company producing the reports.A total of $5.5 million in refunds are being paid out to consumers under the terms of a class-action lawsuit settlement. But the lawyers who filed the case ended up taking home nearly twice that much: $9.47 million in attorneys' fees plus $363,000 in expenses, or $9.83 million in total.Fewer than one in six of the more than 300,000 homeowners originally believed to have overpaid for the reports, produced by Property I.D. Corp., will receive refund checks averaging $110.A direct-mail and newspaper-advertising campaign to reach potential victims generated only 57,751 claims, and 7,374 of those were rejected as invalid, according to the company handling distribution of the settlement.The lawsuit alleged that from 1996 to 2006, Property I.D. formed s...