Brokerage punished with $5M verdict in agent poaching case

Court finds that Douglas Elliman competitor William Raveis Real Estate 'schemed' to steal top producers
  • William Raveis Real Estate and a former Douglas Elliman branch manager have been ordered to pay millions in damages for recruiting Elliman agents while the branch manager was still employed by Elliman.

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Competition for agents, especially top producers, is par for the course among real estate brokerages. But a jury has found that one prominent firm crossed the line -- and is making the firm pay dearly for it. After a four-week trial and a two-year legal battle, a jury has awarded Douglas Elliman Real Estate $4.75 million, finding that, in early 2015, competitor William Raveis Real Estate and former Elliman branch manager Lisa Theiss "schemed" to "unlawfully" move 11 agents, including four top producers, to Raveis's then-newly opened branch office in Armonk, New York, according to an announcement from Elliman last week. Armonk is a wealthy community in Westchester County with about 4,500 inhabitants. It is home to IBM and houses there close for a median of nearly $1 million. The brokerage rivals have offices across the street from each other on the hamlet's Main Street. According to the complaint, Theiss, while still employed as Elliman's branch manager, secretly recruited Elli...