As part of the deal, the real estate franchisor also agreed to create a task force to “enhance compliance” with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

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Keller Williams Realty has agreed to pay $40 million to settle a class action lawsuit alleging the major real estate franchisor’s agents made unsolicited, pre-recorded calls to consumers without their consent, including calls to consumers on the National Do Not Call Registry.

Such calls violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which was signed into law in 1991 to protect consumers from unsolicited telemarketing calls. Although calling expired listings is a time-honored way to drum up business in real estate, being on the receiving end of such cold calls is not always welcome. Exasperated homeowners sometimes even get local authorities involved to stop the seemingly endless stream of agent calls.

Many lawsuits have been filed against brokerages and franchisors under the TCPA. In this particular case, plaintiff Beverly DeShay filed a class action complaint against Keller Williams in June 2022 via the Circuit Court for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit in and for Indian-River County, Florida. Attorneys Stefan Coleman and Avi R. Kaufman of Miami filed the case. Coleman and Kaufman have also filed other TCPA cases against Keller Williams and against other real estate companies, including Anywhere (formerly, Realogy).

The settlement agreement in the DeShay case also resolves claims in the other TCPA cases filed against Keller Williams by Kaufman and Coleman. As part of the settlement, Keller Williams denies any wrongdoing or liability.

The settlement, which must still receive final approval from the court, notes that about 2 million people may be eligible to receive payments of up to $20 each. That amount is a far cry from the $500 per violation and $1,500 per willful or knowing violation stipulated under the TCPA.

Those wishing to submit a claim must do so by March 7, according to a website set up to handle settlement claims. In order to be eligible, potential claimants must have, between May 2, 2014 and December 12, 2022, and without their consent:

  • received two or more calls or text messages “made by or on behalf of Keller Williams or any Keller Williams-affiliated franchisees, market centers, Realtors, agents, or vendors and that appeared on the National Do Not Call Registry for at least 31 days and/or that appeared on any internal do not call list of Keller Williams” or its affiliates; and/or
  • received one or more calls or text messages from Keller Williams or its affiliates “using an artificial or prerecorded voice and/or a cloud based dialing platform;” and/or
  • received one or more calls made using an auto-dialing system from Keller Williams or its affiliates

The agreement stipulates that the attorneys’ fees cannot exceed $10 million and that those fees will be paid from the $40 million settlement sum.

In addition to the maximum $40 million settlement sum Keller Williams has agreed to pay, the franchisor also agreed to create a TCPA task force to “enhance compliance” with the law; to make the existing TCPA and Do Not Call resource page on the franchisor’s intranet, KW Connect, more visible to its franchisees and affiliated agents; and to provide additional materials to its franchisees about TCPA and DNC compliance that they can use with their affiliated agents.

Keller Williams declined to comment for this story.

“As a matter of policy, we typically don’t comment on settled and pending litigation,” KW spokesperson Darryl Frost told Inman in an emailed statement.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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