Keller Williams Realty, as well as co-founder Gary Keller and other top brokerage executives, including president Marc King, are facing yet another lawsuit.
The latest complaint was filed Thursday evening in the U.S. District Court Western District of Texas, Austin Division, by plaintiffs Colleen and Bart Basinski and the Baz Investment Group.
Former Keller Williams market center owners in Illinois and Indiana, and partial owners of a third market center in Southern California, the Basinskis are suing Keller and his brokerage for six counts of tortious interference — and they are seeking over $1 million in damages due to lost income.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that they faced constant pressure from Keller, King, and co-defendants Dan Holt, who is the regional director of Keller William’s Mid America Region, and Colette Ching, the regional director of Southern California, to alter their business operations, despite parameters set up in their franchise agreement, and adhere to Keller’s plans to lower market center caps in 2020.
The Basinskis eventually agreed to adhere to Keller’s market cap plans because they feared repercussions, which according to the filing, included threats to “terminate or decline renewal of the market center’s licensing, take away high grossing agents and place them in competing markets and more subservient market centers, and other oppressive measures to ensure that market centers lowered their caps.”
In addition, the suit alleges that “as retaliation for Plaintiffs’ unwillingness to embrace the unlawful directives to lower their market center caps, KWRI and Keller ordered King, Holt and Ching to terminate their Plaintiffs’ association and investments in the three market centers.”
Paul Omodt, a spokesperson for the Basinskis, added: “We are starting to get a clearer picture of how Keller Williams Realty and Gary Keller operate which isn’t pretty and needs further scrutiny. A clear pattern of changing franchise agreements, devaluing businesses, pressure tactics, and character assassination if you don’t comply with Gary Keller’s illicit schemes is emerging. Yet another shoe drops in the sordid tale of Keller Williams Realty.”
The lawsuit also alleges that Colleen Basinski was specifically targeted for her association with former Keller Williams CEO John Davis.
Davis recently filed his own lawsuit seeking $300 million in damages. He claims he was forced to resign from his position and sell his Keller Williams market centers at reduced prices due to a disagreement with Keller over his market center cap business strategy.
According to the filing, Colleen Basinski was terminated as a team leader of the Orland Park Market Center because of her association with Davis.
“Colleen and Bart are incredibly hard-working people who used the systems and tools set up by former CEO John Davis and found great success for themselves, their agents and ultimately Gary Keller,” Omodt said. “They however refused to be manipulated by Keller and his cohorts and lost millions. This case seeks to remedy this situation, not only for Colleen and Bart, but for other market center operators who were forced into the same situation.”
In response to a request for comment, Keller Williams spokesperson Darry Frost wrote in an email: “We learned from the Basinski’s self-released statement that they filed a lawsuit this morning. The complaint has not yet been served nor does it appear to be publicly available yet, thus, we have no further comment.”