A Washington, D.C., Compass agent who was accused in a lawsuit earlier this year of mutinying and trying to steal her former team leader’s business has hit back, denying any wrongdoing and filing a countersuit for millions of dollars.
Alexandra Thomas Schwartz filed her countersuit Tuesday. In it, she argues among other things that her former team leader Jill Schwartz has misrepresented both her real estate sales and the services she offered team members, as well as repeatedly made “false and derogatory statements” about Thomas Schwartz.
Thomas Schwartz ultimately asks a judge to award her $2 million plus various attorneys’ fees, punitive damages and “compensatory damages in an amount to be proven at trial.”
The countersuit is a response to a lawsuit that Schwartz filed in February. In that case, Schwartz claims that three agents — Thomas Schwartz as well as Danielle Spira and Ray Ferrara — conspired to form their own team, and in the process broke oral and written contracts.
Schwartz, who leads the Jill Schwartz Group in Washington, D.C., further argues in her lawsuit that Compass — which is also named as a defendant in the original suit — improperly failed to terminate the three agents who formed their own team. Schwartz ultimately believes that she is entitled to commissions those three agents earned, but argues that Compass failed to help her collect that money.
“The Defendants acted in concert and as part of a coordinated plan, motivated by greed and self-interest, and in direct contravention of their duty of loyalty, and their duty to use their best efforts on behalf of Plaintiff,” Schwartz’s attorneys argued in the February complaint.
That complaint goes on to say that Compass was “motivated by its own greed and self-interest” and “in effect condoned the conduct of the Defendant team members and failed to assist Plaintiff in putting a stop to it.”
Schwartz’s lawsuit specifically accuses Thomas Schwartz of improperly downloading a “confidential and proprietary” property database, and then days later informing Schwartz of plans to form a new team without her. The lawsuit describes these actions as an attempt on the part of the three agents to “oust” their team leader.
“In forming a new team and shutting out the Plaintiff, the Defendant team members fully intended to steal and overtake Plaintiff’s business,” the complaint states.
After the complaint was filed, a Compass spokesperson told Inman that it had fired Schwartz.
However, Thomas Schwartz denies any wrongdoing in her countersuit. Among other things, she argues that she didn’t enter into any oral agreements regarding her former team, and that she technically didn’t work “for” Schwartz but was rather an independent contractor working for Compass.
Thomas Schwartz also contends in her countersuit that she didn’t steal clients from her former team leader, and that she properly paid commissions.
“The developer John Gregg chose Defendant Thomas Schwartz as the agent he wanted to list his property after the team breakup,” the countersuit explains of one particular situation. “As part of the settlement agreement Plaintiff entered into with Compass upon the breakup of her team, Plaintiff was paid 50 percent of the commission on the closing for this property, which was more than the 25 percent she was entitled to under the commission split in the Team Contract with Defendant Thomas Schwartz.”
Additionally, Thomas Schwartz says in the documents that she left the Jill Schwartz Group for financial reasons and that she and the other agents never actually formed their own alternative team.
“The former team members have not and have never formed a new team,” the documents state. “Rather, they have either joined a different Compass team or are working independently as solo agents at Compass.”
The original lawsuit from Schwartz asks for both a jury trial and for the three agents to pay “jointly and severally, in excess of Five Hundred Thousand ($500,000) Dollars compensatory damages, punitive damages, costs, and any other damages this Court deems just and proper.”
Attorney’s representing the various agents involved in the lawsuits did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Thomas Schwartz’s countersuit ups the ante by asking in two different instances for “an award of compensatory, special, and punitive damages in an amount not less than $1,000,000, attorneys’ fees and costs, and any and all other relief as justice so requires.” In two other instances, Thomas Schwartz asks for various attorneys fees and punitive damages, but asks that a dollar amount be set at trial.
The result is that if she were to prevail, Thomas Schwartz could collect multiple millions of dollars.
It remains to be seen, however, who the judge will side with, and as of right now no trial date is set.