Real Estate News

Marcus & Millichap Settles Suit Against Former Agents and Sperry Van Ness

(ENCINO, CA) -- Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services says two former agents who allegedly stole proprietary and confidential documents, have settled a pending lawsuit.  So has the company they work for.

The defendants are Gary Imbrie, his son, Ryan, and their employer, Sperry Van Ness International Corp. Inc. of Irvine, CA.   Gary Imbrie is managing director of Sperry Van Ness's Beaverton, OR office.

The Imbries deny the allegations, but along with Sperry Van Ness, paid Marcus & Millichap "significant damages" to halt the court action, according to a prepared statement by Paul Mudrich, senior vice president and chief legal officer of Marcus & Millichap.

Mudrich says the suit was triggered after the Imbries allegedly "misappropriated key business documents and attempted to misappropriate an exclusive listing in an effort to jump-start" a new office for Sperry Van Ness in Portland, OR.

Gary Imbrie was Marcus & Millichap's broker of record in Portland until June 2004 when he and son Ryan, an associate agent, joined Sperry Van Ness.

"While Marcus and Millichap respects the decision of any of its independent contractor sales agents to leave the firm and pursue other opportunities, we will not permit departing sales agents to disrupt our customer relationships, or to take confidential and proprietary business documents with them," says Mudrich.

He says Marcus & Millichap decided to sue the Imbries and Sperry Van Ness "to make it clear to departing salespersons and Marcus & Millichap's competitors that the firm will vigorously protect itself from any such unfair acts of competition."

Gary Imbrie issued the following statement exclusively to Real Estate Channel:

'In late April 2009, Gary Imbrie and Ryan Imbrie agreed to settle a frivolous lawsuit with Marcus & Millichap out of court for $30,000, far less than it would have cost in attorney fees to proceed with litigation.  The Imbrie's decision to settle the suit was based on nuisance value.  

"Prior to the appeal by Marcus & Millichap, the case had been dismissed in September 2008 by the Honorable Gregory H. Lewis at which time he stated, "This frankly appears to the court this is about two arguably powerful real estate companies fighting over Oregon territory and the little guy, Imbrie, is caught in the middle."  

"Although Marcus & Millichap alleged the Imbries misappropriated 'key business documents," the fact of the matter is that the document they were referring to - their purchase agreement - was readily available for download on the internet.  

"The entire case against the Imbries was extremely weak.  Gary Imbrie stated, " t is a sad case in that for some reason they wanted to punish me, but I have nothing but high regard for M&M, and have never, and will never, do anything to harm them."

Sperry Van Ness president Kevin Maggiacomo, calls the suit and its charges "without merit."

In settling with Marcus & Millichap, Sperry Van Ness "denied having engaged in any wrongdoing or unlawful conduct," Maggiacomo tells Real Estate Channel.

He says his company's decision to settle the suit was "based on 'nuisance value.'"  Sperry Van Ness paid Marcus & Millichap $15,000.  

Sperry Van Ness was not involved in the Imbrie-Marcus & Millichap settlement.

Maggiacomo tells Real Estate Channel Sperry Van Ness and the Imbries were initially sued in Orange County Superior Court in Irvine, CA.  That case was later dismissed by the judge on grounds that it should have been filed in Oregon.

"Marcus & Millichap appealed the adverse decision against it, and while the appeal was pending, the case was settled through a private mediation that took place in Portland, OR in late January 2009," Maggiacomo says.

As part of the settlement between Marcus and Millichap and Sperry Van Ness, "a mutual release and waiver of claims was given by both sides, including a release of any claims SVN might have had against M&M and its attorneys for malicious prosecution and abuse of process," Maggiacomo says.

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