Northern California Record

Friday, November 22, 2019

Court not required to enforce settlement in dispute involving San Diego Multiple Listing Service


By Charmaine Little | Jun 21, 2019


SAN DIEGO – On May 31, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California recommended that a motion to enforce a settlement be denied in a real estate dispute.

“Because the parties did not specifically request the court to retain jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the [settlement], the court will not address any arguments made by the association defendants pertaining to alleged breaches thereof, nor will the court address plaintiff’s argument that the arbitration provisions contained in these agreements should be enforced,” said U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen S. Crawford.

Defendant North San Diego County Association of Realtors (NSDCAR) filed the ex parte motion to enforce a settlement along with co-defendant Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors (PSAR). Sandicor Inc. is also a defendant in the case.

The plaintiff, San Diego Association of Realtors (SDAR), was against the motion. SDAR alleged the defendants breached terms of their previous settlement agreement, including by using a telephone number previously used by Sandicor as a number for the San Diego Multiple Listing Service and presenting slides during a broker roundtable discussion that were disparaging to business reputations.

Crawford said evidence did not prove that using a generic telephone number is the same as marketing, so the breach of agreement might not have actually occurred. Crawford also said the defendants failed to actually show how a presentation with two questionable slides was a violation of the agreement.

SDAR sued the two fellow real estate broker associations as one of its main competitors in January 2016. Sandicor is actually a product of “previous iterations of these associations” in attempt to combine Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in one space, according to the ruling.

From the time of the lawsuit to the settlement agreement, Sandicor had 100 percent of the market for consolidated MLS data for San Diego County.  The plaintiff alleged that the defendants worked together to operate Sandicor via the control of the board of directors and wanted to keep the plaintiff from having access to the MLS listings database.

NSDCAR and PSAR sued in the San Diego Superior Court in the County of San Diego in October 2016. NSDCAR and PSAR then tried to dissolve Sandicor in the action. SDAR responded with a complaint-in-intervention requesting a statutory buyout via California Corporations Code section 2000(a), which pertains to dissolution.

While the parties were able to come to a settlement agreement, the disputes continued. The agreement said NSDCAR and PSAR would no longer be shareholders for Sandicor. Instead, SDAR would be the only shareholder. Sandicor was then renamed to San Diego Multiple Listing Service. After the settlement, the parties asked the court to dismiss the case, and the joint motion was granted that day. Now, the defendants say SDAR breached the settlement agreement and asked the court to enforce it.

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