A pair of rogue realtors who dared to step outside the powerful grip of The Villages have scored a major victory in court.
U.S. District Judge James Moody has upheld a special magistrate’s ruling that Properties of The Villages could not enforce non-compete agreements it had with former top producers Jason Kranz and Christoper Day, founders of nascent real estate firm, KD Premier Realty.
The non-compete agreements have been a powerful weapon wielded by the Jennifer Parr-led sales arm of Florida’s Friendliest Hometown. In addition to Kranz and Day, it’s also a victory for Angela Kranz, Cynthia Hughes, Nanette Elliott, Angie Taylor and Kelly Shipes, who defected from Properties of The Villages and joined KD Premier Realty.
“Properties of The Villages claimed that enforcement of the non-compete restrictions was necessary to protect its confidential information and customer relationships,” said Fort Lauderdale litigation specialist Jonathan Pollard, who recently took on the case.
Ultimately, Properties of The Villages hung its hat on customer relationships, he said.
“As the magistrate saw it, there were generic prospective customers, customers currently in the pipeline, and then former customers who may have purchased real estate from a certain agent in the past. Properties of The Villages had not alleged theft of any current business/customers. Instead, their allegations focused on the general market and customers who may have done business with the company in the past,” Pollard said.
Every Properties of The Villages salesperson must sign an independent contractor agreement or they don’t sell homes in The Villages, something Shipes detailed in a deposition. The former Villages Charter School volleyball coach, who was told her coaching services were no longer needed when she joined KD Premier Realty, described in detail the “scary” leverage held over her head and the heads of her colleagues at Properties of The Villages.
Now, that Kranz and Day have scored a David-vs.-Goliath victory over The Villages, it remains to be seen if others who have signed non-compete agreements with Florida’s Friendliest Hometown will choose a similar path.
Attorney Pollard said he has been “mocked” and called “delusional” when taking on powerful entities who believe they hold all the cards with non-compete agreements.
“Often, it’s ugly. It’s stressful. You take your fair share of losses even when you are right on the law. You make powerful enemies. And lots of people will regard you as an idiot who is tilting at windmills and should just shut up, stop fighting for a cause, and go do something else. For my part, I remain steadfast in my mission and firm in my belief that those who can fight this sort of fight — must,” Pollard said.