LAS VEGAS/ Jan. 4, 2019 (STL.News)– Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services, Inc., a California corporation (“MMREIS”) and other plaintiffs, today filed a lawsuit against individuals associated with the Nevada Real Estate Commission (NREC) and Nevada Real Estate Division (NRED) for violations of Federal Antitrust laws, the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), conspiracy, and other statutes and common laws.
The lawsuit initiated in the U.S. District Court on December 21, 2018 names as defendants Devin Reiss, current President of the NREC; Lee K. Barrett, Vice President of the NREC; Wayne Capurro, Secretary of the NREC; Neil Schwartz, Commissioner of the NREC; Norma Jean Opatik, former Commissioner of the NREC; Richard Johnson, former President of the NREC; and Jan Holle, NRED Chief Investigator.
In filing the complaint Paul S. Mudrich, Chief Legal Officer of MMREIS, stated, “We believe NRED’S and NREC’S egregious conduct was committed with blatant disregard for both state and federal law, as they have admittedly and unapologetically conspired to illegally stifle interstate commerce and thwart fair competition for the Commissioners’ own personal financial gain, and to ensure an illegal monopoly in favor of themselves and other similarly-situated in-state real estate professionals. As NRED and NREC have unleashed and aggressively sought to enforce their self-benefitting regulations, they have destroyed fair and open markets, turning Nevada into an island by cutting Nevada real estate off from the rest of the national market.”
The complaint details allegations that the defendants conspired to use their positions with the NREC and NRED for personal gain and to the detriment of Nevada property owners and consumers, out-of-state professionals, and the national marketplace. Specifically, the complaint alleges that in 2014 the defendant Commissioners, who are themselves licensed real estate professionals competing for brokerage commissions, conspired to alter the real estate regulations to exclude out-of-state professionals and limit competition.
The lawsuit seeks to remove unconstitutional and illegal barriers that ban Nevada residents from using out-of-state real estate professionals to buy or sell Nevada real estate. These barriers prohibit Nevada property owners from hiring the specialists of their choice and cut Nevada off from the national marketplace. The complaint alleges that defendants acted without public notice or comment, or any consumer complaints or harm in order to divert brokerage commissions away from out-of-state licensed professionals to local real estate professionals, such as the defendant Commissioners themselves. It is also alleged that the results of these illegal actions are deflated Nevada real estate values, reduced consumer choice, and an illegal monopoly over the Nevada commercial real estate market.
Mudrich further stated, “The defendants’ selfish and singular focus on protecting their own pocket books is terrible for the state, its residents, and Nevada property owners everywhere. Not only are Nevada property owners prevented from retaining the trusted licensed professional of their choice, but in limiting this choice, defendants have driven down Nevada property values by eliminating exposure to buyers around the country.”
Representatives for MMREIS assert that the lawsuit comes after significant good faith efforts to work with state officials to correct its agencies’ unconstitutional actions. With its efforts ignored, MMREIS claims it was left with no avenue but the courts to end the illegal actions, hold the individuals accountable, and protect Nevada property owners.
About Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services, Inc.
MMREIS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marcus & Millichap, Inc. a leading national brokerage firm specializing in commercial real estate investment sales, financing, research and advisory services.
Contact: Seth M. Mott, Deputy General Counsel