Zestimates protected as free speech, Zillow argues in legal challenge

  • Zillow has maintained that the charges against the Zestimate are "without merit" and the court filing reveals the basis of its legal defense: The First Amendment.

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Stock forecasts, search engine rankings, editorial reviews, Zestimates. What do they have in common? They're all constitutionally protected as free speech, Zillow argued in a memorandum responding to a class-action lawsuit in Illinois challenging its online home valuations. The legal analysis accompanied a motion to dismiss the suit, which alleges that Zillow's Illinois Zestimates are illegal appraisals and violate consumer protection laws. Zillow has maintained that the charges are "without merit" and the court filing reveals the basis of its legal defense: The First Amendment, which covers the Zestimate "just like a newspaper editorial about the value of a new public works project," the company said. Plaintiffs drafting a response to the motion In mid-May, a family of Illinois homebuilders sued Zillow over Zestimates that appear on the site's property details pages for properties they own. The plaintiffs' attorney, Barbara Andersen, told Inman at the time that the Zestim...