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Months after Keller Williams Realty agreed to pay $40 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging its agents made unsolicited, pre-recorded calls to consumers without their consent, a major real estate franchise is facing yet another similar dispute — along with one of its agents.
On Monday, Las Vegas resident Wayan Garvey filed a complaint for class action status in U.S. District Court in Nevada against KW and KW agent Britney Gaitan. The complaint alleges that KW and Gaitan violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which prohibits making unsolicited, prerecorded telemarketing calls, as well as telemarketing calls and text messages to phone numbers registered on the National Do Not Call Registry.
Many lawsuits have been brought against brokers and franchisors under the TCPA. Although calls timed out listings being on the receiving end of such cold calls is a proven way to start a real estate business not always welcome. Sometimes even angry homeowners involve local authorities stop the seemingly endless stream of agent calls.
“Keller Williams runs it. [R]ealators such as Gaitan to make unsolicited telemarketing calls soliciting their services,” the June 12 complaint states. “Calls use pre-recorded messages. It is also directed by Keller Williams [R]send unsolicited telemarketing text messages. These calls and texts are sent to individuals in the national do-not-call registry.”
In an emailed statement, KW spokesman Darryl Frost told Inman, “We are aware of the filing and investigation of the allegations. As part of the policy, we require our franchisees and their real estate agents to comply with all laws, including the TCPA.”
The complaint alleges “relentless marketing practices” by Keller Williams and its agents, including a partnership with major provider Landvoice Data, which generates personal phone numbers associated with expired listings on multiple listing services (MLS) as well as for homes near those that expire expired. statements.
“Landvoice integrates with dialing and texting software, such as Keller Williams’ Command software, and allows Keller Williams agents to easily export call lists and make calls and texts,” the complaint said.
“Many of these phone numbers are registered in the National Call Register. Keller Williams also provides its representatives with a web platform that allows its relatives (sic) to make marketing calls and send marketing text messages in bulk to these numbers without the recipients’ consent.”
The complaint highlights that Keller Williams, through Landvoice, instructs its agents to cold call both “daily expired” and “old expired” listings and provides agents with call scripts, including a script that warns homeowners that they will receive dozens of calls from agents .
“Keller Williams realizes that many other companies use the same technique and that recipients likely receive 30-50 calls to every phone number that can be found, yet they call and encourage this aggressive tactic,” Garvey’s lawyers wrote.
According to the complaint, Garvey registered his cell phone number with the National Do Not-Call Registry in July 2006 but, without his consent, began receiving unsolicited marketing text messages and phone calls from KW and Gaitan around April 26, 2023, as his property was listed for sale in 2019 and was therefore on the “old expired” list from the supplier KW.
The complaint seeks $500 per violation and $1,500 per willful or knowing violation set forth under the TCPA for two classes that the complaint says could be in the hundreds or thousands:
- all persons in the U.S. whose telephone number was called by the defendants using a pre-recorded voice from four years prior to the filing of the complaint through the date of class certification
- all persons in the U.S. to whose telephone number the defendants made two or more telemarketing calls during a 12-month period where the number to which the calls were made was in the National Do not Call Registry for more than 30 days at the time of the challenge from four years before the complaint was filed to the date of certification classes
“Mr. Garvey and the class were harmed by the violations herein,” the complaint said. calls and text messages. Defendants’ phone calls and text messages were annoying and harassing and wasted the time of Mr. Garvey and the class members.”
Not every TCPA lawsuit against a real estate company also sues the soliciting consumer agent, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise, according to Shaun W. Pappas, a partner at Starr Associates LLP, a New York law firm not connected to the case.
“In the U.S., the theory for a lot of lawsuits is usually that you sue everyone involved and let the courts figure out who’s really responsible,” Pappas told Inman in a phone interview.
“So under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, if there’s a violation and there’s an agent who’s the person who’s allegedly violating the law, I’m not surprised that person would be sued as well.
“Obviously you are acting on behalf of the company you represent, but you also have an individual responsibility to comply with the law. Whether they end up being held personally liable, I think is a big burden, like individual liability, but I’m not that surprised they were sued.”
In January, KW agreed to pay $40 million to settle a TCPA class-action lawsuit, but that settlement only resolved claims in the TCPA cases brought against KW by Miami-based attorneys Stefan Coleman and Avi R. Kaufman.
As part of the settlement, Keller Williams agreed to create a TCPA task force to “enhance compliance” with the law; promote the existing TCPA and Do Not Call resource page on the franchisor’s intranet, KW Connect, to its franchisees and affiliate agents; and provide its franchisees with additional TCPA and DNC compliance materials to use with their affiliate agents.
Asked if KW had taken those steps, Frost said: “We are meeting our settlement obligations.” The company declined to comment further.
Gaitan did not respond to a request for comment.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional comment from Keller Williams.