Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C., August 29, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

National Association of Realtors wants to school DOJ on meaning of ‘closed’ probe

(Reuters) – The National Association of Realtors is hanging its federal lawsuit on what it says defines a closed case, because it argues that the U.S. Justice Division needs to be barred from an ongoing antitrust inquiry into the commerce group after earlier reaching a now-withdrawn settlement.

The Chicago-based affiliation’s legal professionals at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan mentioned in a court filing in U.S. District Courtroom for the District of Columbia on Nov. 12 that the “plain language” of the sooner settlement reached final yr required the DOJ antitrust division to “close” an investigation of sure affiliation guidelines and insurance policies regarding property listings and advertising competitors.

The commerce group, responding to the Justice Division’s bid to dismiss the grievance, included in its submitting a colour picture of a Merriam-Webster dictionary cowl and scans of a web page exhibiting the definition of the phrase “close.”

A DOJ spokesperson on Monday declined to remark. The federal government has mentioned the proposed settlement with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) “will not sufficiently protect the Antitrust Division’s ability to pursue future claims against NAR.”

Legal professionals for the affiliation mentioned it agreed to settle DOJ’s investigation final yr based mostly on a “required commitment from the Antitrust Division to ‘close’ its investigation.”

“That term must be construed according to its ‘ordinary meaning,’ and the Antitrust Division’s position, that it was free to ‘open’ that same investigation at any time, contradicts the clear meaning of the parties’ agreement,” Quinn’s Ethan Glass, the agency’s antitrust chair, wrote within the newest submitting.

In an announcement, the affiliation mentioned “the Antitrust Division cannot prevail by simply asserting — without citation to law, rule, or policy — that it cannot enter into settlements that limit investigations by future administrations.”

Antitrust enforcers, the affiliation’s assertion mentioned, “routinely [enter] agreements that limit future investigations, including through its leniency program, guilty pleas, and non-prosecution agreements.”

The case is National Association of Realtors v. United States, U.S. District Courtroom for the District of Columbia, No. 1:21-cv-02406-TJK.

For plaintiff: Ethan Glass of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan

For defendant: James Luh of the Justice Division

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