Post: Real Estate Commission Fight Escalates to the Supreme Court: HomeServices Defends Arbitration


HomeServices Takes Stand in Supreme Court Over Commissions Dispute

In a recent turn of events, real estate brokerage defendant HomeServices has taken the fight regarding commissions to the Supreme Court. As part of their argument, they claim that the trial involving Sitzer/Burnett should not have occurred as the plaintiffs had signed arbitration agreements prior to the case. Despite this, the Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the trial should proceed, asserting that HomeServices was not expressly named in those arbitration agreements.

Disagreements Between Trial and Arbitration Procedures

The discrepancy lies in the fact that HomeServices attorneys argue that the key mistake by the Eighth Circuit initially lay in confusing whether disputes could be arbitrable with those who decide the merit of such conflicts. The belief exists amongst their legal team that the trial itself should not have transpired in the first place, and that the plaintiffs are instead obligated to arbitrate their claims. Additionally, any disagreement surrounding arbitration should be determined by an arbitrator rather than a court.

Eighth Circuit Denies HomeServices’ Request for Arbitration

Despite such arguments, the Eighth Circuit endorsed a lower court ruling, denying HomeServices’ request directing Sitzer/Burnett’s plaintiffs to pursue arbitration. In doing so, the judges noted that it is the courts — not the arbitrators — responsible for determining if a party has forfeited its right to arbitration through default. Furthermore, they stated that HomeServices essentially relinquished this right by actively participating in litigation for nearly a year before submitting their motion.

Appealing Based on the Federal Arbitration Act

Executive Vice President at HomeServices, Chris Kelly, sought to explain the company’s position via email. He stated that their appeal is focused on resolving a core legal question that has arisen from the ongoing Sitzer/Burnett case. Drawing from principles outlined in the Federal Arbitration Act as its foundation, HomeServices insists upon honoring arbitration agreements as written — including provisions that delegate interpretive authority to arbitrators.

  • Key Points:
    • HomeServices takes commissions dispute to Supreme Court.
    • Circuit Court of Appeals rules trial should go ahead.
    • HomeServices argues plaintiffs are obliged to arbitrate claims.
    • Eighth Circuit denies request for arbitration; courts decide right to arbitration.
    • Appeal based on Federal Arbitration Act seeks resolution for legal question.

    A Broader Goal for National Application of the Federal Arbitration Act

    Beyond simply arguing for this specific case, Kelly emphasized that HomeServices’ overarching goal is to ensure consistent application of the Federal Arbitration Act nationwide. By taking the fight to the Supreme Court, they aim to see greater uniformity in how these legal matters are handled throughout the country.

    Final Thoughts and the Future Implications of the Case

    As the real estate commission dispute between HomeServices and Sitzer/Burnett escalates further with the involvement of the Supreme Court, there are potential ramifications not only for both parties involved, but also for the entire nation. Should the court rule in favor of HomeServices and uphold the principles of the Federal Arbitration Act, it could result in significant changes to how arbitration agreements are approached and enforced across various industries.

    Ultimately, with the case currently being presented to the Supreme Court, it remains to be seen whether HomeServices’ pursuit of a more consistent application of the Federal Arbitration Act will come to fruition or if the courts will continue to maintain their authority in such disputes.