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U.S. District Judge André Birotte, Jr., has dismissed eXp founder and chairman Glenn Sanford from a second sexual assault lawsuit involving former star agents Michael Bjorkman and David Golden, according to documents filed Thursday.

In a nine-page order, Birotte said former eXp agent Anya Roberts failed to prove Sanford — along with eXp Realty and eXp World Holdings as entity defendants — ignored her claims due to the substantial financial income Bjorkman and Golden brought to the company through its revenue-share program.

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“EXp Realty has zero tolerance for abuse, harassment, or misconduct of any kind — including by the independent real estate agents who use our services,” a spokesperson for eXp Realty said in a statement Wednesday.

“EXp hopes and trusts that the court will give a full and fair hearing to the plaintiffs as they continue to pursue claims against the individuals who allegedly assaulted them,” the spokesperson added. “However, the claims against eXp and its leadership have no basis in fact or law, and we are pleased with the court’s decision to dismiss these claims.”

Revenue share payouts are based on the number of productive agents a current eXp agent or broker sponsors (i.e. recruits). Sponsors are given a percentage of their agents’ adjusted gross commission income (AGCI), which is “dynamically calculated each month to ensure that eXp Realty pays out and retains 50 percent of the company dollar (half of the 20 percent split with agents).”

Unlike the other complaint against Bjorkman and Golden from former eXp recruits Fabiola Acevedo, Tami Sims, Christiana Lundy and another woman known as Jane Doe 3, Birotte said Roberts’ claim that Sanford and eXp gained from Golden’s attempt to become her sponsor fell flat since she was already an eXp agent.

Roberts’ attorney, Andrea S. Hirsch of Cohen Hirsch LP, said, “We will file an amended complaint that will address all of the court’s concerns and we believe that will resolve the issues raised in Defendants’ motion to dismiss, thereby allowing the case to move forward.”

At the time of the alleged assaults in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and Daytona Beach, Florida, Roberts had been an eXp agent for two years.

The Puerto Vallarta incident involved Golden and his former girlfriend, Emily Keenan, who allegedly drugged and assaulted Roberts on a boating trip in February 2020. Roberts said she “blacked out” but was told by others she and Keenan kissed. She said Golden promised her she’d experience “more financial success” if she made him her sponsor.

Roberts and Golden began a relationship later that month and in March went to Daytona Beach, Florida, where she said Golden gave her a “workout performance-enhancing drug” in their hotel room. She passed out again and allegedly woke the next morning to Bjorkman exposing himself to her, leading her to believe another assault had taken place.

“Even reading the complaint in favor of the Plaintiff, it remains unclear what benefit the Entity Defendants stood to gain from Plaintiff switching her sponsor in response to the alleged sex acts,” the order read. “Indeed, it is not alleged that her initial recruitment was intertwined with the sex acts as was the case in Acevedo.”

“Instead, the Plaintiff hitches the Entity Defendants’ liability to a generalized theory that what may benefit Golden or Bjorkman necessarily benefits the Entity Defendants within the meaning of the [Trafficking Victims Protection Act], and without more, the Court cannot endorse that proposition based on the current pleading,” it added.

Birotte also mentioned several other factors, including “the failure to allege” that Sanford and eXp were aware of the police reports she filed regarding Bjorkman and Golden’s alleged assault, and whether a conversation between Sanford and an unidentified Board Member about Bjorkman and Golden included a “discussion of [their alleged] conference attendance scheme.”

Lastly, Birotte said Roberts’s complaint failed to establish an employer relationship between Bjorkman, Golden and Sanford, as both men are considered independent contractors, and not employees, of eXp.

“Defendant challenges the Complaint for failure to allege facts sufficient to establish an employer relationship, control, or that the actions of Bjorkman and Golden were foreseeable,” the order read. “Plaintiff appears to concede in her Opposition that certain amendments are warranted.”

Birotte brought up the same issues when dismissing eXp agent and team leader Brent Gove from the lawsuit. The judge said Roberts’ complaint needed “additional facts” to prove that Gove was aware of his team member’s alleged actions.

“Plaintiff contends that he was aware of the ’modus operandi,’ and that he was present on the boat where Roberts was drugged and acting erratically,“ he wrote. “The Court generally agrees with the Defendant’s critique and believes the Complaint would benefit from additional facts articulating Gove’s awareness of the alleged bad behavior with more specificity.”

Although Birotte dismissed Gove, Sanford and eXp from the lawsuit, he left the door open for Roberts and her council to amend the complaint with additional information.

Bjorkman also filed a motion to dismiss the sex trafficking claim; however, Birotte declined his request.

Birotte also granted portions of Sanford and eXp’s motion to dismiss the Acevedo case but decided to uphold Acevedo and her co-plaintiffs’s intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence claims.

Email Marian McPherson

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