Baird & Warner Sued Over Allegedly Fake Sales Figures

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Law360 (March 19, 2018, 10:26 PM EDT) -- Chicago-area real estate company At World Properties LLC sued Baird & Warner Real Estate Inc. in Illinois federal court Monday, alleging the competitor engaged in false advertising that exaggerated its position in the marketplace and threatened its own business.

At World Properties, more commonly known as @properties, alleged Baird & Warner has no right to tout $8.8 billion in sales and 32,000 transactions last year in its current advertising campaign, saying Baird & Warner's actual total sales volume last year was only $5.6 billion, or 17,168 transactions.

"There are no qualifications or explanations as to how B&W calculated this number," @properties said of Baird & Warner's advertised 2017 total sales. "Likewise, there is no data source cited."

Baird & Warner has aggressively marketed the allegedly false numbers in magazines and online since the beginning of 2018, @properties said. The complaint alleged Baird & Warner violated the Lanham Act, as well as the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

"In its advertising and promotional materials, B&W has made false statements that mislead consumers regarding B&W's services and constitute deceptive trade practices," @properties said in its complaint. "The B&W Advertisements are likely to injure @properties because the false or misleading statements in the B&W Advertisements are likely to divert potential @properties clients to B&W and likely to divert potential employees of @properties to B&W."

Both @properties and Baird & Warner are residential real estate brokerage companies that focus on Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. @properties also serves Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, while Baird & Warner also does business in Wisconsin.

@properties pointed to Baird & Warner's advertisements on Facebook and a notable ad in Chicago Agent Magazine, which says in large font over Chicago's skyline, "It's official. We crushed 2017."

But using data from industry aggregator Midwest Real Estate Data, @properties allegedly found those numbers are way off, and asked the court to enjoin Baird & Warner from publishing or distributing any further advertisements using those numbers and to destroy all remaining copies of the ads. Additionally, @properties wants the court to require Baird & Warner to publish a retraction for using the numbers, and to award @properties damages.

Aaron Stanton of Burke Warren MacKay & Serritella PC told Law360 on Monday that @properties "has worked hard to establish the leading position in the local Chicago marketplace and is committed to defending that position against false and misleading claims," and said his client will "pursue all remedies" against such allegedly dishonest advertising practices.

"Cooperation among brokerage firms is at the core of the real estate business, and @properties expects all firms to be held to — and to hold themselves to — reasonable standards for truth in advertising," Stanton said. "Violating these standards by overstating sales figures and making false claims is harmful to the firms that play by the rules, like @properties. More importantly, it is harmful to consumers and to the brokerage industry as a whole."

A spokesman for Baird & Warner could not be reached for comment on Monday.

@properties is represented by Aaron Stanton and Andrew LeMar of Burke Warren MacKay & Serritella PC.

Counsel information for Baird & Warner could not be determined on Monday.

The case is At World Properties LLC v. Baird & Warner Real Estate Inc., case number 1:18-cv-01973, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

--Editing by Breda Lund.

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This article originally appeared at https://www.law360.com/articles/1023868/baird-warner-sued-over-allegedly-fake-sales-figures

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