Harvey R. Weingarden and Brian D. O’Keefe Victorious in Antitrust Dismissal

Congratulations are in order for our client, Realcomp II, Ltd. Late last week, Judge Bernard Friedman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan issued an Opinion and Order granting Lippitt O’Keefe Gornbein’s Motion for Summary Judgment. This particular case was brought by an individual alleging that our client, a real estate multiple listing service, engaged in anticompetitive (antitrust) behavior by requiring subscribers of its services to be a member of a real estate association, which in turn, requires members to secure a broker’s license and pay dues.

Judge Friedman ruled that the Plaintiff failed to establish any antitrust injury, which is defined as an injury attributable to some anticompetitive aspect of the matter being scrutinized. Without alleging an antitrust injury, the Plaintiff, as Lippitt O’Keefe Gornbein argued, lacked standing to bring this lawsuit. Judge Friedman ruled that the Plaintiff failed to allege “a market, competitors, or any other injured person”, and that the complained-of practice, Realcomp’s MLS administration “actually promotes competition.” Pro-competitive behavior, held the Judge, does not violate antitrust laws.

The Judge further ruled that even if the Plaintiff did have standing, he cannot show that prohibiting him from subscribing to Realcomp unreasonably restrains trade. While there is a “tying arrangement” between participation in Realcomp, and association membership, that tying is reasonable because it is not arbitrary, and not discriminatory, and the Plaintiff did not allege that if he obtained a broker’s license and paid his dues that he would still be denied.

Lippitt O’Keefe Gornbein partners Brian D. O’Keefe and Harvey R. Weingarden’s diligence, thorough strategy and work on this matter, resulted in a well-deserved victory for Realcomp. Lippitt O’Keefe Gornbein is proud to have been a part of this team.

 

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