Realtor Association Of Fort Lauderdale Sues Miami Association Of Realtors
By Patricia Hoyos
The Realtor Association of Greater Fort Lauderdale is suing the Miami Association of Realtors for allegedly heading a deceptive advertising campaign that makes false and deceptive advertising under the Lanham Act and Florida law, damaging the Fort Lauderdale association.
"We’ve had a chance to review their news release and also to take a brief look at the suit," Teresa King Kinney, CEO of the Miami association, said Tuesday afternoon. "We strongly deny the allegation."
"The suit seems to be a reaction of healthy competition in the marketplace," she added.
According to the federal suit, the Miami association’s campaign has injured the reputation of the Fort Lauderdale group by making false statements in ads regarding association membership and size, product pricing and supposed member savings for joining the Miami group instead of the Fort Lauderdale association.
The Miami association’s alleged false statements are meant to get realtor members to switch their membership and divert potential new members from joining the Fort Lauderdale group, the lawsuit states. These statements have been distributed through email, websites, newspapers and trade association materials, making false comparisons between the two organizations, the complaint claims.
"We filed suit because our profession follows a code of ethics and standard practice to zealously maintain and improve the standards of our calling and share with our fellow realtors a common responsibility for its integrity and honor," said Richard W. Barkett, CEO of the Fort Lauderdale association, in an official statement. The Miami association’s "commercial advertising and promotion contained false statements and representations of fact, statements and representations which implicitly convey a false impression, are misleading in context, and are likely to deceive association members and potential new members."
The suit was filed Tuesday in US District Court in Palm Beach County.
Ms. King Kinney denied all claims of wrongdoing, saying her association’s advertising and promotion is ethical, accurate and true.
She said it was a shame that a fellow professional organization would take the time to take such action that will result in expenses for the Miami association, money she said the organization could be using to provide services for its members.
She said the Miami association has more than 25,600 members that the organization can account for and verify, more than 6,000 of them in Broward County.To read the entire issue of Miami Today online, subscribe to e -Miami Today, an exact digital replica of the printed edition.