Howard Hanna had been one of several defendants in a case known as Batton 2, which was brought by homebuyers and has a much larger scope than some better-known cases.

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A massive commission lawsuit brought by homebuyers in Illinois now has one less defendant after the claims against Howard Hanna were dismissed this week.

In a document filed Monday, the seven plaintiffs in a case known as Batton 2 announced that they were voluntarily dismissing all their claims against Howard Hanna. The document provides no other details, saying only that the “dismissal is proper because Howard Hanna Real Estate Services has not yet served either an answer or a motion for summary judgment.”

The claims were dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning they could be refiled again at a later time.

Batton 2 began in November, immediately after a jury sided with the homeseller-plaintiffs in the case known as Sitzer | Burnett. The jury in that lawsuit specifically agreed with the plaintiffs that the National Association of Realtors and several major franchisors conspired to keep consumer costs in real estate high.

Batton 2 — which like all recent commission lawsuits is named after its lead defendant, in this case a woman named Mya Batton — was among a slew of so-called “copycat” cases that followed the Sitzer verdict.

However, Batton 2 is also atypical in several ways. For starters, Batton and the other plaintiffs are homebuyers, while a majority of other commission lawsuits have been initiated by sellers. The plaintiffs in Batton 2 specifically believe they overpaid when buying homes as a result of anti-competitive practices among major real estate companies.

The scope of the case is also exponentially larger than Sitzer | Burnett; both Batton 2 and a similar previous suit known as Batton 1 seek class action certification on behalf of a “Nationwide Class” and a sweeping “Damages Class.” If the cases were to receive such a certification, they could potentially represent millions of real estate consumers from across the U.S. — rather than a more limited number of consumers in smaller jurisdictions, as is the case in Sitzer | Burnett.

Aside from Howard Hanna, defendants in Batton 2 include Compass, eXp World Holdings, Redfin, Weichert Realtors and United Real Estate.

News of Howard Hanna’s dismissal from Batton 2 was first reported by Yahoo Finance.

Inman has reached out to both Howard Hanna and to lawyers representing plaintiffs in the case, and will update this story with any comment they provide.

Though the claims against Howard Hanna were dismissed, both Batton 2 and numerous other commission lawsuits are still winding their way through the legal system. So far, only Sitzer | Burnett has gone to trial, though a number of major industry players — Anywhere, RE/MAX, and Keller Williams — have filed settlements in some cases.

However, the broad outcome of the ever-rising number of commission lawsuits remains unclear. Many in the industry have speculated that the cases could bring about massive change such as reduced use among consumers of buyers’ agents, or fewer buyers’ agents altogether. Some in the industry have, in response, also called for new measures, such as a focus on buyers’ agent contracts, while others are responding with changes to their company policies or training.

Either way, though, whatever the collective impact of the cases ends up being, it’s likely to be big.

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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