NAR Moves To Dismiss Arizona REALTORS® Antitrust Suit

By Charlie Innis | Law360

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and other realty groups urged an Arizona federal judge to put an end to a real estate agent’s antitrust and other claims, arguing that the broker continues to violate pleading standards in his latest complaint and still lacks facts to back his allegations.

NAR, White Mountain Association of REALTORS® (WMAR) and Arizona Association of REALTORS® all filed motions to dismiss real estate broker Grady Hillis and his affiliated entities’ suit with prejudice Wednesday.

According to the groups, Hillis’ second amended complaint is fundamentally unchanged from the 1,295-page version that preceded it, despite U.S. District Judge Steven Logan’s warning that the broker risked sanctions if he filed another “legally frivolous or factually misleading” complaint.

“Ignoring the court’s clear warnings, plaintiffs filed a 26-page second amended complaint asserting 613 counts, which is nothing more than an extraordinarily crude cut-and-paste effort derived from the [first amended complaint] that adds no additional facts nor any meaningful attempt to specify which defendant did what, to whom, with whom, where and when,” White Mountain Association of REALTORS® said in its motion.

NAR said in its motion that, once again, Hillis has “simply lumped NAR in with the other defendants through conclusory statements, such as ‘Plaintiffs entered into a contract with Defendants’ and ‘Defendants breached their duty.'”

“These are the same sort of impermissible group allegations that riddled the [first amended complaint] and warranted dismissal,” the national trade group said. “NAR respectfully submits that they are fatal to the [second amended complaint] as well.”

Hillis’ suit against the realty groups began in September 2021. He claimed they had been redacting information from his sales listings when an emailed copy was sent to potential buyers and accused the groups of adopting rules that chill competition.

According to Hillis, the associations’ alleged rules bar an owner or seller from placing their own “for sale” sign on their property, and further, they do not allow for the disclosure of personal broker or agent information in the public remarks of listings, among other things.

Hillis followed up in January with an amended complaint that alleged over a thousand counts of claims against all the groups that spanned 1,295 pages, which he filed along with over 900 pages of attached exhibits. The vast array of counts included breach of contract, negligence, aiding and abetting tortious conduct and antitrust claims.

Judge Logan tossed the complaint without prejudice in June, saying the filing was “exceedingly redundant,” contained thousands of identical paragraphs and blatantly violated pleading standards.

The real estate agent filed his second amended complaint in July, alleging 613 counts of antitrust, breach of contract, tortious interference and other claims. He is seeking $1.18 billion in punitive damages, an amount the realtor estimates is the defendants’ annual gross income, according to the latest complaint.

Among the groups’ arguments for dismissing the suit, NAR contended that Hillis’ antitrust claims fail to meet the requirements to survive dismissal because he does not define a relevant market, nor does he identify an allegedly anti-competitive agreement.

WMAR claims in its motion that Hillis has failed to single out any purported contracts with the association, nor has he pinpointed a contractual right that was allegedly denied to him, nor a breach of any rules.

“Instead, plaintiffs assert that WMAR is complying with its alleged contracts with plaintiffs, and somehow being damaged,” the association said.

The Arizona Association of REALTORS® moved to dismiss the suit for the same reasons set forth by NAR, according to its filing.

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