A lawsuit filed by an Arizona real estate broker alleging antitrust violations over rules regarding listing broker attribution is now dead.
On Wednesday, a federal court tossed the suit, which sought $1.18 billion in punitive damages, after the broker agreed to dismiss its claims against the National Association of Realtors in exchange for the trade group’s agreement to not move for sanctions against the broker or his lawyer in the case.
Almost exactly one year ago, broker Grady Hillis of Grady Hillis Realty in Lakeside, Arizona, filed suit in Arizona’s U.S. District Court against NAR, the Arizona Association of Realtors and the White Mountain Association of Realtors (WMAR), alleging the associations had been redacting information about the listing agent and/or broker out of his sales listings when an emailed copy is sent to a potential buyer.
In February, NAR filed a motion to dismiss the case, taking aim at Hillis’s Jan. 25 amended complaint. The complaint came to 1,295 pages and included 1,013 separate counts alleged against the Realtor associations — an extremely unusual length for a legal complaint. The complaint appeared to repeat the same allegations for each listing in which Hillis’s contact information was removed from the listing description in the WMAR multiple listing service.
In April, NAR also filed a motion for sanctions against Hillis and his attorney, Eduardo Coronado of Coronado Law Firm PLLC, alleging that the complaint was “premised on (1) false statements of fact — concerning alleged contracts between NAR and Plaintiff that do not exist and alleged services that NAR does not provide; and (2) frivolous legal theories.” The motion asked the court to order Hillis and Coronado to reimburse NAR for the attorneys’ fees the trade group incurred to respond to the amended complaint and to bring the sanctions motion.
At the end of June, Judge Steven P. Logan dismissed the case, but allowed the plaintiff to file a second amended complaint. Logan also dismissed NAR’s motion for sanctions as “premature,” but also gave the trade group leave to amend its motion in the future.
On Sept. 2, Coronado filed a stipulation to dismiss the case “with prejudice,” meaning permanently. The stipulation noted that “The National Association of Realtors has in turn agreed it will not move for sanctions against Plaintiffs or their counsel.” The court’s dismissal noted that “each party shall bear its own costs and attorneys’ fees.”
In an emailed statement, NAR spokesperson Mantill Williams told Inman, “We are pleased with the decision to drop this frivolous lawsuit. We filed a motion for sanctions because the pleadings in this lawsuit filed by plaintiffs violated court rules that say pleadings must not contain frivolous arguments or arguments without evidence. This action proves this lawsuit was meritless and recklessly thrown together, as we have previously noted.”
Coronado received sanctions in May 2021 and November 2021 from the Arizona Bar: three admonitions and three probations. His profile on the Bar’s website does not elaborate on the charges against him.
Coronado and Hillis did not respond to requests for comment. AAR and WMAR declined to comment for this story.
At NAR’s annual conference last year, the trade group’s board of directors approved a policy to require the display of a listing broker’s phone number or email address next to listings on agent and broker websites. The deadline to implement that policy was Sept. 1.