In a landmark ruling, a federal judge on Wednesday dismissed all antitrust allegations from REX Real Estate against both NAR and Zillow. Judge Thomas Zilly of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington concluded there was no evidence to support the accusations that a secret agreement existed between the two and other related entities to demote and conceal non-MLS listings on Zillow’s websites and mobile platforms.
Even though NAR is no longer a defendant in the case, it remains to be seen if it will be permitted to take part in the trial set to take place next month. In the ruling, Judge Zilly commented on the fact that Zillow made a conscious decision not to exclude REX’s listings, “The evidence demonstrates that instead of precluding REX’s listings entirely, like websites such as Redfin did … Zillow expended significant time and resources to ensure that REX’s and other non-MLS listings would remain on its platforms, albeit under a separate tab.”
Will Lemke, Zillow’s manager of corporate communications, said of the ruling: “Today’s ruling is a significant victory for Zillow in this case. The court agreed REX’s antitrust claim was without merit and lacked any evidence to back it up. This ruling affirms Zillow’s business decisions were squarely focused on improving the data on our website for consumers. With REX’s central argument tossed from this case, we believe the public now sees this case for what it is: REX seized upon another company’s website design change to hide its own business failings.”
REX is still pursuing claims against Zillow for false advertising under the Lanham Act, a claim for unfair or deceptive trade practices under Washington’s Consumer Protection Act (CPA) and a claim alleging defamation. The dismissal of the antitrust allegations against NAR and Zillow are considered to be a major victory for both of them, as the trial will now focus on Zillow exclusively.
Source: Housing Wire