LOS ANGELES, CA—Last month, a Missouri court held that the National Association of Realtors, Keller Williams and Homeservices of America were liable for $1.8 billion in damages related to how realtors charged commissions. Damages may be trebled (increased) by the judge up to $5.3 billion. New lawsuits have now been filed in South Carolina and Texas.
The existing judgment will be appealed by NAR and the brokerages, and if the appeal is lost, NAR and Keller Williams will go bankrupt. When that happens, where will the plaintiff turn next to collect on the verdict? Many independent NAR affiliates are concerned that they will be the target of the plaintiff’s collection efforts, as their affiliation with NAR may be an antitrust violation. Over the past week a number of these broker affiliates contacted Aliant to inquire if anything can be done to protect their personal assets ahead of the possible judgment and collection activities by the plaintiff. Asset protection is an area of the law that deals with legal and ethical methods of protecting assets from claims of plaintiffs and creditors. Attorneys use structures like trusts, limited liability companies, friendly liens, transfers between spouses, and complex offshore planning to shield assets from third parties.
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