Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Agent gets sued, for someones else’s listing on his IDX site.

This is making the rounds and I thought it was interesting enough to post.

Jeff Launiere

“I have found an interesting question has arisen. Can a real estate agent who has an MLS feed, be sued for a listing with illegal language in the listing, even if that listing is not that agents? Up until recently I would have said no.

However, last year I had a Federal Lawsuit filed against me for violations of the Fair Housing Act. Apparently, an Independent Fair Housing Tester went to my website, scanned the listings and found one with illegal language in it, then filed a Federal Fair Housing Lawsuit against me.

The lawsuit claims I am the listing agent. I am not, but obviously the Independent Fair Housing Tester believed because all 13,000 plus listings are on my website it must mean they are my listings.

The lawsuit then gives the property address, and I quickly realize that I have never listed a home, or sold a home in that city. So I contact my Broker, and then the company attorney. I send all documentation showing that I have nothing to do with this listing, and forward the actual listing, which shows who the listing agent is.”

Big mistake right? Now lets enter the Twilight Zone….

“I am told to ignore the lawsuit and they will handle everything, and will work to get the lawsuit against me dismissed.

It seemed that the lawsuit would be invalid, since the lawsuit says I am the listing agent, but I am not. It says that the wording in my listing, which said “Adults Only, No Children Under 16 Allowed,” has caused the Independent Fair Housing Tester pain, suffering and she will have to live through a lifetime of embarrassment. Since it is not my listing, and I never used these words, obviously I am not liable.

Suddenly this week I get a call from the Company Attorney who tells me the lawsuit is being settled, and she will send me the documents for me to sign. So I ask some questions.

So my name has been removed from the lawsuit? No.

There must be something in there clearing me of responsibility? No.

There will be no fee to me, right? Well the attorney fee will be paid by the E&O Insurance Company, and the settlement will be $5,000.

I will not have to pay any of the $5,000 correct? She said you need to call your office to find out if you have to pay a deductible.

So I call my office and they tell me I will be responsible for a $5,000 deductible. How convenient. The settlement is for $5,000 and the amount I will be required to pay is $5,000 all for language in a listing that is not even mine. So I get a $5,000 penalty, but the listing agent gets off without any penalty, or even a violation.”

His whole post is wort a read and he also has a few updates.

[Thx Russ.]

UPDATE 3.12.13 Lawsuit Dismissed.

“A bit later there was a new post by Laurie Janik, stating that the lawsuit against me had been dismissed. As I had received over 1,500 emails, and the phone never stopped ringing all weekend, but especially yesterday, I checked my voice mails and found the message from her, sharing this great news.”

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