Real Estate Agency Fight Devolves Into Defamation Lawsuit
It’s Wednesday. Hump Day. So, we thought we’d jump-start the morning with a jolt of lighter legal fare. Specifically, a longstanding feud between two real estate agencies in the nation’s heartland, which has devolved into a nasty defamation lawsuit worthy of being turned into a Lifetime Movie subplot, has caught our eye.
In one corner we have Iowa Realty, the largest property sales agency in the Hawkeye State. In the other corner is Keller Williams – a Texas-based real estate company looking to expand into other regions, namely Iowa. In other words, ladies and gentlemen, start your business competition engines.
According to reports, the beef between the two house sellers began as early as 2006 when William Keller first dipped their toe into the Iowa real estate pond. In 2012, the Texans turned up the heat and filed a lawsuit against Iowa Realty, citing unfair competition. They also filed formal complaints with several industry associations. A conflict over how commission sharing was at the center of the hubbub.
After investigations, flummery and public relations retaliations, all of the formal complaints against Iowa Realty, filed by Keller Williams, were either dropped or came out in favor of Iowa Realty. It was at this point, from what we can tell, that Keller Williams abandoned all legal blustering and dropped the suit against Iowa Realty.
The fight between the two real estate agencies, however, continues. But this time around, Iowa Realty appears on the plaintiff line.
Seemingly outraged by what they feel was a premeditated public relations campaign to tarnish their business reputation, Iowa Realty filed a claim against Keller Williams charging malicious prosecution, breach of contract and defamation. Seemingly outraged by what they feel was a premeditated public relations campaign to tarnish their business reputation, Iowa Realty filed a claim against Keller Williams charging malicious prosecution, breach of contract and defamation.
All jokes aside, this could prove to be an interesting case, because if Iowa Realty is looking to sue Keller Williams over things said in the course of another lawsuit, the defendant will probably make some sort of qualified privilege argument, and it may work. If, however, Iowa Realty can cite clear-cut examples where Keller Williams’s representatives made false statements of fact, which ultimately caused Iowa Realty harm, the Texas company may not escape unscathed.
We can’t get our hands on a copy of the filing, but would love to read it. So, if anybody out there can point us in the right direction, please do.
Oh, and happy hump day!