In the wake of the landmark Burnett verdict where the National Association of REALTORS® and big real estate companies were found to have violated antitrust laws, one defendant brokerage has decided to significantly bolster its legal team.
Keller Williams, the real estate mega-franchisor that was on the wrong end of a $1.78 billion judgment in Burnett, announced last week it was hiring former U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement to represent the company in an appeal of that verdict.
“Widely recognized as one of the top appellate attorneys in the United States, Clement’s extensive experience representing clients across diverse, high-profile cases of national significance is unparalleled and well-matched for this high-stakes appeals process,” wrote Keller Williams spokesperson Darryl Frost in a statement.
Clement has a long history of public service and appellate cases in high-profile roles, often championing conservative causes. He worked on the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton as well as in a key role opposing the Affordable Care Act.
Nominated in 2005 to be the 43rd Solicitor General of the United States by former president George W. Bush, Clement has argued over 100 cases in front of the Supreme Court, according to Frost. He clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and also served as chief counsel for a key U.S. Senate subcommittee.
More recently, Clement was part of a team that triumphed in an extremely controversial Supreme Court case over firearm restrictions, claiming in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that his firm pressured him to cease representing a gun rights advocacy organization. He subsequently opened his own law firm.
“I am delighted to be representing Keller Williams in this high-stakes appeal,” Clement said in a statement. “The verdict here raises serious legal issues and poses a threat to a wide range of business by converting practices enshrined in state law into per se antitrust violations.”
Judge Stephen R. Bough, who presided over the Burnett case, notably did not allow defendants to introduce state laws as evidence in the trial, and additionally took a narrower view of the antitrust issues in the case.
NAR has also committed to appealing the Burnett verdict, as well as asking for a reduction in the damages. NAR and Keller Williams are also facing at least three other major commission-focused lawsuits.