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Just New Homes, Inc. v. Sun Management, Inc.

A-2764-05T5 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2008) (Unpublished)

BROKERS — A property owner must establish continuing irreparable injury if it wants a court to issue an injunction barring the listing of its property on a broker’s website.

A real estate broker had an internet website containing information on new residential projects. Potential purchasers of new homes were able to register as clients of the broker and could authorize the broker to serve as their agent entitled to a commission. The website instructed the purchasers to print out a coupon that would allow for a cash back bonus of one percent of the purchase price. The purchaser was instructed to tell the builder that the broker was its real estate agent, and the bonus would be payable from the commission the broker would seek from the builder. The builder in this matter stated that it would pay a fee to the broker so long as the broker personally accompanied the prospective buyer to the sales office. A salesperson with ties to the broker brought a discriminatory action against the builder, maintaining that he was unable to accompany prospective buyers to the sales offices because he suffered from progressive osteoarthritis. The builder filed a counterclaim seeking a permanent injunction enjoining the broker from representing to clients that they would receive a rebate or discount if they purchase a home from the builder. The lower court found that the discrimination claims were barred when it found that the litigant had adjudicated his rights administratively and was therefore barred by collateral estoppel. The lower court further imposed monetary sanctions for filing a frivolous lawsuit. The Court also denied the builder’s request for a permanent injunction to have its name removed from the broker’s website. The rulings were appealed by both parties.

The Appellate Division affirmed the rulings. It first stated that given that prior litigation had been terminated adversely to the salesperson, he had no objectively reasonable basis to believe that the current lawsuit would be any more successful. It then held that for a permanent injunction to issue, a court must find that a legal right to the relief existed and that an injunction was necessary to prevent a continuing irreparable injury. Here, the Court found that the builder had not come forward with sufficient proofs to establish a continuing irreparable injury from the website listing.


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