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Judge denies Batton plaintiffs’ request to block settlement agreement’s final hearing

A court has denied the Batton 1 plaintiffs’ last-minute attempt to block Thursday’s final approval hearing for the commission lawsuit settlement agreements from occurring.

Earlier on Wednesday, the homebuyer plaintiffs in the Batton 1 commission lawsuit, filed in Chicago in January 2021, filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. The motion sought to prevent Anywhere, Keller Williams and RE/MAX from filing a proposed order granting final approval of their settlement agreements.

Judge Andrea R. Wood, who is overseeing the Batton suit as well as the Moehrl home seller commission lawsuit, said this request was “neither necessary nor appropriate.”

Due to Wood’s order, Thursday’s final approval hearing will continue as planned.

In her order, Wood wrote that the plaintiffs’ “goal is to prevent the fairness hearing duly set by the Burnett court from going forward according to that court’s orders. Such extraordinary action would be inappropriate.”

In their motion, the Batton plaintiffs argued that the three settling brokerage firms “did not reveal their intent to release homebuyer claims” until Friday, May 3, and didn’t reveal they planned to specifically prevent the Batton 1 plaintiffs from pursuing their claims until Tuesday, May 8.

When the settlement agreements were initially announced, it was generally understood that they only applied to claims brought by home sellers. But in court documents filed last week, Anywhere revealed that they had “insisted that the people in the Settlement Class release all their antitrust claims arising from the same alleged conspiracy, including claims they could assert as either sellers or buyers.”

Anywhere and RE/MAX each reached settlement agreements in September, prior to the start of the Sitzer/Burnett trial. Keller Williams reached a settlement agreement in early February 2024.

The National Association of Realtors’ settlement agreement will not be considered for final approval on Thursday as its final approval hearing date is set for Nov. 26, 2024.

Keller Williams did not wish to comment on Wood’s ruling, while RE/MAX and Anywhere did not return a request for comment.

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