"We are committed to: The highest ethical standards. Uncompromising honesty and integrity." —The Windermere Mission Statement "In the real estate business somebody's word is very important. If you say you're going to do something, you've got to do it." —Windermere CEO Geoff Wood's Public Affirmation
Is WindermereWatch.com of social benefit to consumers and the public? You decide:
Windermere Real Estate is one of our country’s largest real estate companies and widely promotes a fraudulent express warranty that states “We are committed to... The highest ethical standards. Uncompromising honesty and integrity.” The definition of an express warranty from Black's Law Dictionary is: "A warranty created by the overt words or actions of the seller. • Under the UCC, an express warranty is created by any of the following: (1) an affirmation of fact or promise made by the seller to the buyer relating to the goods that becomes the basis of the bargain."
But when customers are victimized by dishonest Windermere brokers and agents, and complain in writing through legal counsel to franchiser Windermere Services Company, it is absolutely silent in the face of clear and convincing evidence, and forces the customer to sue or go away. In many cases, unsuspecting consumer lives are thrown into complete chaos through costly litigation; and also because the subject homes may actually be uninhabitable or unserviceable for reasons about which Windermere knew and had a legal obligation to disclose—but did not. For some victims, the long and expensive litigation forced upon them even results in bankruptcy and homelessness. Despite their clear evidence, many victims go on to lose in court because they can't afford attorneys or have no legal experience, and Windermere exploits those impediments to endless advantage—lives, homes, and personal finances are ruined forever. And Windermere expects those victims to just go away without their lives and homes, merely for buying a house through Windermere Real Estate, innocently.
Although such irrefutable evidence of Windermere broker/agent misconduct has been presented to franchiser Windermere Services Company, it knowingly continues collecting commissions from dishonest agents and brokers by deliberately passing them on to other unwitting consumers. Just one example is Windermere S.C.A. Redmond's Paul Stickney, who received a $522,200 court judgment for not disclosing a conflict of interest, but is still producing commissions for his Windermere SCA franchise, and Windermere Services Company. Is that the "Highest ethical standards. Uncompromising honesty and integrity?"
When victims use the media to report their Windermere experiences honestly, Windermere sues them for libel and defamation through false lawsuits to intimidate, silence, and hush bad PR—read one of those lawsuits here. It then tries to coerce victims into signing a “dark clause settlement agreement” that permanently terminates their speech rights—read some of those "settlement" agreements here. Through an expensive and emotionally distressing roller coaster ride with Windermere's nasty Demco lawyers, a victim of Windermere fraud is told they will be taken all the way to trial on trumped-up libel and defamation charges, and if they don't sign the dark clause, their life and future will be ruined. When a victim persists in refusing to sign, Windermere voluntarily dismisses its own lawsuit under Civil Rule 41, just before trial, after costing the victim years and yet thousands more to defend against the false action. This predatory legal tactic is known as abuse of process or malicious prosecution. In one example cited below, franchiser Windermere Services Company served an outspoken victim a lawsuit for libel and defamation, and then immediately sent them an email instructing that they "...need not hire an attorney," and further stating, “…we will try to resolve this directly and outside the legal system.”
Every Windermere office in every state is legally tied to franchiser Windermere Services Company's fraudulent express warranty, false advertising, predatory conduct and policies through privity and its pecuniary franchise agreement. Some legal observers believe that Windermere's conduct has RICO and Civil Rights violation implications. If you have recently purchased a Windermere franchise without having been disclosed Windermere's falling brand value, PR decline, and its adverse website problems, click here for its duty of disclosure under Federal Trade Commission rules. Proof that Windermere Services Company knew about WindermereWatch.com in March of 2007 is in this document.
Windermere Real Estate is a textbook corporate predator who operates franchises in Washington State, Oregon, California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii and British Columbia. Windermere repeatedly makes the false claim that it has offices in Wyoming, but it does not. If you’re buying or selling property through ANY Windermere office, a percentage from your transaction will be used by franchiser Windermere Services Company to silence and financially ruin innocent parties who’ve encountered Windermere fraud. Windermere won't pay legitimate damages or acknowledge wrongdoing, and will stall settlement of cases all the way to state supreme courts, a legal strategy that Windermere routinely employs to bankrupt victims and exhaust their resources.
We believe the information presented here is of profound social benefit to consumers and the community, and we are dedicated to providing it.
THROUGH FEES AND COMMISSIONS PAID TO FRANCHISER WINDERMERE SERVICES COMPANY, EVERY WINDERMERE NETWORK OFFICE IN EVERY STATE IS AN ENTHUSIASTIC PARTNER AND KNOWING ACCESSORY TO WINDERMERE MARKETING FRAUD AND ITS PREDATORY POLICIES
Consumer advocates, legal experts and elected lawmakers all agree that the American real estate industry demands greater regulation to protect consumers from the human disaster of real estate fraud perpetrated by unethical realtors employed at companies like Windermere Real Estate. Windermere manipulates our clogged, inundated courts and the justice system to stall, wear down and financially exhaust victimized consumers, many of whom are wiped-out by the cost of pursuing civil justice in a process where innocent victims must CHASE perpetrators of real estate fraud through the courts AFTER a fraudulent offense has been committed. Acts of fraud are so common and widespread throughout the Windermere real estate network, that the defense of real estate fraud has become has become just another bottomline expense on the Windermere balance sheet. And the litigation nightmare of real estate fraud can happen to anyone who deals with Windermere Real Estate. It could happen to you. Windermere is by far the most unethical, deceitful, and culturally toxic real estate company operating in the United States. Windermere knowingly, deliberately, and unabashedly profits on corrupt franchise owners, brokers and agents with proven histories of fraud and ethical misconduct, many of whom are profiled in the pages of WindermereWatch.com. Despite Windermere's well-documented assault on victim speech rights, more and more unconscionable cases of Windermere fraud continue emerging.
Windermere is headquartered in Seattle, at franchiser Windermere Services Company. It was founded by John W. Jacobi, and he has kept the company a private, family-owned enterprise, eluding the transparency and ethical accountability required by stockholders. For decades, Windermere has harnessed the art of positive PR, affixing itself—however superficially—to community art events, the homeless, and even an annual college rowing competition which opens Seattle's boating season—the Windermere Cup—irresponsibly promoted by, and in conjunction with, the University of Washington. But those are the disingenuous and cynical sideshows created by an adept market manipulator, shown only briefly to the public, to obscure and obfuscate Windermere's true predatory nature.
FRANCHISER WINDERMERE SERVICES' MANAGEMENT TEAM AND DESIGNATED GOVERNING PEOPLE: EXPERTS IN MARKETING FRAUD, ABUSE OF THE LEGAL PROCESS, AND AT COERCING DAMAGED WINDERMERE CLIENTS INTO SILENCE BY SUPPRESSING THEIR SPEECH RIGHTS
The shameless greed and repugnant ethics of Seattle's Jacobi family, deliberately profiting on the loss and suffering of Windermere victims through commissions on the fraudulent home deals and unlawful misconduct of dishonest Windermere agents, brokers and franchise owners. Forget human decency, commercial reputation or social responsibility—it's all about the money.
Before turning the business over to his children and son-in-law, Windermere founder John W. Jacobi (left) simply ignored any complaints of fraud from Windermere victims, sending them straight to the lawyers. Yet despite claims of retirement, Jacobi is still indeed quite active at franchiser Windermere Services Company:
In Complaint 10-2-36192-8 SEA, filed in King County Superior Court on October 12, 2010, Windermere Services Company has sued former Windermere Puyallup Canyon Road owner Joe Maxwell for default on an “Unconditional Guaranty of Payment” promissory note. The Maxwell Answer and Counterclaims state that the “Plaintiff's [Windermere Services Company] claims are barred by Plaintiff’s fraud, duress, and unclean hands,” and alleges $4,000,000 in damages and violation of Washington's Franchise Investment Protection Act; and also that "The alleged Note and Guarantee are unconscionable and unenforceable." Maxwell's Counterclaims state "6. The WPCR Operating Agreement contains a provision granting Jacobi a special veto power which among other things, states that the company shall conduct its business and manage its affairs in accordance with the directions of Jacobi and all management decisions are subject to Jacobi’s review," and "13. In early 2006, WSC and Jacobi decided to open another WSC office in the territory in which WPCR was operating, despite the objections of Maxwell. As a result of the opening of this new WSC office, WPCR lost a significant number of its real estate agents and revenue that transferred to the new office in Graham, Washington," and "14. As a direct result of these actions taken by WSC and Jacobi, WPCR was left with a large debt burden and overhead, and WPCR’s revenue was significantly reduced... 22. On September 14, 2010, Maxwell heard from a real estate agent working at WPCR that the agent had received an email from WSC notifying him WPCR’s franchise had been terminated. This notice was sent to WPCR’s real estate agents before Maxwell learned of the termination of WPCR’s franchise." Read the complete report on this case here.
Jacobi's Washington Loan Company is also currently being sued for Intentional Misrepresentation—read that report here—Case Update: Stipulation and Order for Dismissal. And the Windermere affiliated service company, Commonwealth Land Title Company of Puget Sound, has recently been found negligent by a jury who awarded the third-party plaintiffs $1,190,000. Read the Commonwealth report here.
Current Governing Person and Windermere Services Company CEO Geoffrey P. Wood (left) is married to John W. Jacobi's daughter, Jill Jacobi-Wood. Wood is the chief architect of Windermere marketing fraud, inducing business volume through—among other fraudulent promotion—an express warranty of "The highest ethical standards. Uncompromising honesty and integrity." When called upon to honor his company's warranty, Wood instructs Demco lawyers—led by Matthew F. Davis–to sue vocal victims for libel and defamation. Wood is also a Governing Person of Windermere Relocation, the subject enterprise of Windermere's employee rape case. He was briefly a real estate sales person in 1994, but that license was CANCELLED in 1995, and Wood currently has no real estate license of any kind that WindermereWatch can find.
Governing Person Jill Jacobi-Wood (left), Windermere Services President, is a licensed real estate broker in Washington State, and as such is subject to the statutory condition of RCW 18.86.030 "(d) To deal honestly and in good faith." For her part in Windermere's marketing fraud and malfeasance, Jacobi-Wood's RE license should be cancelled by the Washington State DOL's real estate division. By promoting honesty and integrity—while in reality—she is suing and coercing Windermere victims to shutup about their Windermere experience, Jacobi-Wood is hardly dealing honestly and in good faith.
Governing Person John O'Brien "OB"Jacobi (left) is General Manager of franchiser Windermere Services Company and also has many Windermere realty brokerage offices. He's a licensed real estate broker who is also called upon by statutory law to "Deal honestly and in good faith." But John "OB" Jacobi instead promotes fraudulent claims of honesty and integrity, and falsely sues victims of Windermere misconduct for libel and defamation to intimidate them and coerce their silence. Then this junior Jacobi runs away and voluntarily dismisses his own mendacious lawsuit when a victim refuses to sign Windermere's dark clause settlement agreement that has cost the victimized party so much distress and money to defend.
Windermere Services Governing Person and attorney—WSBA# 26636—Paul Drayna (left) has even more stringent ethical requirements placed upon him through his collateral professions of Lawyer and Notary Public; and Drayna is also bound by the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. But Mr. Drayna is not only practicing marketing fraud at Windermere. As Windermere in-house counsel, Drayna oversees Windermere's predatory litigation strategy of deliberately abusing the legal process by falsely suing victims for libel and defamation, and then attempting to intimidate and coerce those victims out of their speech rights and into Windermere's Dark Clause silence agreement. When victims WON'T sign the Windermere Dark Clause, Drayna runs away too, and voluntarily dismisses his own company's lawsuit under Civil Rule 41—but only after first costing the victim thousands to defend the phony lawsuit. Drayna is even copied on the mendacious, Demco-authored settlement documents meant to quash speech rights and be signed by Windermere victims. Drayna is also listed on the Board of Directors at Seattle Pro Musica, "a world of choral beauty," as being Pro Musica's Corporate Secretary and Legal Counsel. Pro Musica states as part of its mission "Respect/Integrity—a principle of respect and integrity in all our endeavors." So while Mr. Drayna is ruining lives by prosecuting costly, false and mendacious lawsuits that seek to intimidate Windermere victims and terminate their speech rights, he is also promoting "...a belief in the importance of music as a means of connection to each other and the community." Visitors to WindermereWatch.com and responsible citizens alike are urged to boycott Seattle Pro Musica concerts. Visit the boycott Seattle Pro Musica page by clicking here.
WINDERMERE'S DEMCO LAW FIRM: ESCHEWING ETHICS and DOING WHAT OTHER LAWYERS JUST WON'T DO
Attorney and multi-office Windermere broker John Demco (left) is the ethically-elastic Windermere kingpin lawyer who operates Demco Law, Windermere’s in-house legal firm, whose primary job is to stall and outspend small fry consumers damaged by dishonest Windermere brokers, agents and franchise owners. When an innocent real estate consumer has the misfortune to suffer one of Windermere’s many bad apples, Demco Law Firm will refuse to settle the matter forthrightly, no matter what conspicuously unlawful or offensive conduct the agent or broker has committed. Demco and Windermere will force the aggrieved party to sue or swallow their damage and go away—standard Windermere operating procedure.
WindermereWatch has compiled voluminous evidence that Windermere-Demco attorney Matthew F. Davis (left), WSBA# 20939, is the kind of lawyer about which jokes are coined. Davis is franchiser Windermere Services' frontline bully—the guy in the legal trenches actually wrecking lives, making threats, and suing victims who speak out. When Shakespeare was recommending "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers," in Henry the Sixth, Part 2, he was talking about egomaniacal lawyers like Matt Davis.
Attorney Matt Davis of Windermere's Demco Law Firm is so unethical, so deceitful and intimidating, that he's famous in law circles. As Windermere-Demco's lead attorney, Matthew F. Davis is renown for his dishonesty, dubious legal tactics, lack of decency and disrespect for the rules of professional conduct. He will do absolutely anything to win—without regard for truth or justice. He will lie to courts and opposing parties. He will file fallacious and erroneous documents with the court. He will email opposing parties telling them not to hire a lawyer when he has just served them a lawsuit. He will call a judge's chambers and request more time without informing the opposing party. He will file orders for a bench trial when he knows a jury trial has been demanded and paid for. He will trick, stall, coerce, menace and threaten. He will invent and extend mendacious Windermere litigation and abuse the legal process for no other reason than to exhaust an opponent’s pocketbook. If he can, he will get YOUR attorney to quit—a favorite tactic.
Windermere, Davis and Demco Law will push a $5 cat poop case all the way to the state supreme court just to avoid paying damages—because it’s all in the Windermere operating budget. And in the end, Windermere and Davis will try to coerce silence about your Windermere experience by trying to make you sign a "settlement" agreement that terminates your speech rights, so you can't ever inform the public about your Windermere debacle. What if you DON'T sign that you'll shut up, and then SPEAK UP instead? Windermere-Demco's Matt Davis will sue you for libel and defamation, then run away and dismiss his own lawsuit on the eve of trial—because after all—you're telling the truth.
Windermere's Clear and Overt Marketing Fraud:
"THE HIGHEST ETHICAL STANDARDS. UNCOMPROMISING HONESTY AND INTEGRITY."
—The Windermere Real Estate Mission Statement
Windermere widely promotes its deceptive express warranty in sales documents and on the internet which states "We are committed to... The highest ethical standards. Uncompromising honesty and integrity." In other Windermere promotion, like the Puget Sound Business Journal, Windermere CEO Geoff Wood is quoted as saying "In the real estate business somebody's word is very important. If you say you're going to do something, you've got to do it." The article goes on to say, "Geoff oversees marketing, legal, financial and internet development services throughout the Windermere network..." Mr. Wood claims absolute dominion over both Windermere legal and internet strategy, making him chief architect of Windermere marketing fraud.
Effective reportage can be harsh in recounting facts, but it must be said in consideration of all the Windermere victims profiled here who truly sought Windermere's vaunted honesty and integrity, that Windermere Services CEO Geoffrey P. Wood is simply lying when he states his company's utterly false and fraudulent commitment to honesty and integrity. He both lies and deceives again when he says that "In the real estate business somebody's word is very important. If you say you're going to do something, you've got to do it." Wood clearly doesn't do what he says he's going to do—be committed to uncompromising honesty and integrity. Wood himself is indeed IN the real estate business and his word is absolutely no good at all. He sues victims of Windermere misconduct for trade libel and defamation to shut them up, and then he tries to use the legal system to suppress victims' speech rights when they ask him to actually perform on the warranty he promotes. As this website proves, Mr. Wood does anything BUT what he says he's gonna do. Far from providing victimized Windermere customers a commitment to high ethical standards, honesty and integrity, Wood and Windermere run away and hide behind their lawyers when innocent consumers are ruined by their Windermere experience.
John W. Jacobi, Geoff Wood, his wife Jill Jacobi-Wood, and governing cohorts John O'brien "OB" Jacobi and attorney Paul Drayna have gone to the absolute ends of the earth in stonewalling, ignoring, denying and fleeing any and all responsibility for Windermere wrongdoing and misconduct. When called upon by victimized Windermere consumers to make good on its warranty of honesty and integrity, Windermere even states in legal pleadings that Windermere agents are NOT agents of Windermere at all—but independent contractors. As the legally-designated Governing People and top managers of the Windermere empire who drive policy, ethics and market promotion, it demands repeating that John W, Jacobi, Geoff Wood, Jill Jacobi-Wood, John OB Jacobi and attorney Paul Drayna are all clearly lying when they promise high ethical standards and uncompromising honesty to the public and consumers of real estate services.
Protect your life, home, family and future by cancelling or not renewing your Windermere listing. Don't risk doing business with Windermere Real Estate, the brand built on lies, fraud and ruined lives. Refuse to fund public predator Windermere Real Estate with commission from the sale of your home.
Windermere Founder John W. Jacobi's Washington Loan Company, Windermere Real Estate S.C.A. Redmond and its Agent Christopher Judd, Sued for Intentional Misrepresentation and Other Claims in Alleged "...unlawful scheme to enrich themselves at the expense of plaintiffs and others..."
(Above left to right) The Governing Persons of the Washington Loan Company: Windermere Founder John W. Jacobi is listed as President of the Washington Loan Company; Timothy Wissner, CFO of franchiser Windermere Services Company is listed as the Washington Loan Company Vice President; Kendra Vita, Manager at franchiser Windermere Services Company is listed as Secretary of the Washington Loan Company; franchiser Windermere Services Company General Counsel, attorney Paul S. Drayna—WSBA #26636—is listed as Registered Agent of the Washington Loan Company. The Washington Loan Company's business license states that its registered trade name is Windermere Real Estate / Eastlake. Generic silhouette heads above are from the Windermere web pages of Timothy Wissner, Windermere Real Estate S.C.A. Redmond owners Craig and Rosalie Shriner, and their agent Christopher Judd. As the public truth of Windermere Real Estate continues emerging, more and more Windermere personnel delete their photos and put up generic silhouette heads.
Read the complete report here.
Case Update: Stipulation and Order for Dismissal
Don't be fooled! Commonwealth Land Title Company of Puget Sound is changing its name to "CW Title" as of September 1, 2011: CW Title IS Commonwealth Land Title Company of Puget Sound by another name.
Should consumers TRUST CW Title and Commonwealth Land Title Company of Puget Sound?
Jury Finds Windermere's "Affiliated Service" Company, Commonwealth Land Title of Puget Sound, Negligent and Awards Third-Party Plaintiffs $1,190,000.00
(Left) Don Riley, Windermere Services Company Exec VP, Business Opportunities, is listed as a Governing Person of Commonwealth Land Title Company of Puget Sound, LLC; and is also listed as Manager of Commonwealth Land Title. WTG LLC is listed as a Member of Commonwealth Land Title, and WTG is also listed as a Governing Person of Commonwealth Land Title. Geoffrey P. Wood, Windermere Services Company CEO, is listed as the sole Governing Person of WTG LLC.
Read the complete report here.
The Windermere Real Estate Relocation Rape Case:
Court Declares that Windermere "...condoned a rape by a business colleague..."
Editorial Preface: The incredibly violent and insidious psychological ramifications of rape, connected through an “abusive work environment” serves as an unfortunate yet credible subtext for the way in which Windermere Real Estate treats employees and damaged customers alike. Windermere’s application of aggressive, wasteful and mendacious litigation to stall and ruin innocent consumers, serves as the coercive metaphor of corporate power and arrogance: Windermere has no genuine concern for the damage it has done to people or communities. It cares only about how to manipulate the law and the courts to avoid any legal responsibility.
(Above left to right) Windermere CEO Geoff Wood (far left) is currently listed as a Governing Person of Windermere Relocation. Peggy Scott (second from left), also a current Governing Person of Windermere Relocation, "... did not give Little any advice about going to the police, and she did not conduct an investigation of Little's complaint or any follow-up interview with Little." Windermere General Counsel, attorney Paul Drayna (third from left) is listed as the registered agent of RELO LLC, the current entity name of Windermere Relocation. Windermere Founder John W. Jacobi (fourth from left) along with Gayle Glew (far right) are listed as Governing Persons of Windermere Relocation during the Little case. Glew told Ms. Little he did not want any "clouds in the office," and subsequently, after she would not accept a pay cut, that she should clean out her desk.
All citizens who abhor such treatment of women in the workplace should recall Maureen Little v. Windermere Relocation when choosing real estate services. WindermereWatch visitors will also want to read the United States District Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit's Order and Amended Opinion from the Little case.
Summarized and excerpted from a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals
Maureen Little was employed by Windermere Relocation Services (“Windermere”) as a Corporate Services Manager, a position that required her “to develop an ongoing business relationship and relocation contacts with corporations in order to obtain corporate clients needing relocation services for their employees.” Until she was terminated, she received only positive feedback from her supervisors. Windermere’s records confirm that during the relevant period, Little had the best transaction closure record of all corporate managers by a large margin.
Unlike the other managers, Little’s employment contract provided that Little would receive $2,000 monthly, plus a $1,000 monthly override and $250 per closed sale. The override was based on the assumption that Little would close four transactions per month, with a provision for rollover when she did not make the target. According to Windermere President Gayle Glew, the other managers had not received the $1,000 override.
One of Windermere’s clients was the Starbucks Corporation. Some time in 1997, Little performed some relocation services for Starbucks Human Resources Director, Dan Guerrero, on a contract basis, and she learned from him that Starbucks was dissatisfied with its primary relocation provider. Glew told Little that he would “do whatever it takes to get this account” and that Little should “do the best job she could.” Thus, little believed that, as part of her job, she was to build a business relationship with Guerrero to try and get the Starbucks account, and she had at least two business lunches with Guerrero toward this end.
On October 14, Little accepted Guerrero’s invitation to discuss the account at a restaurant. After eating dinner with Guerrero and having a couple of drinks, Little suddenly became ill and passed out. She awoke to find herself being raped by Guerrero in his car. She fought him off and jumped out of the car, but again she became violently ill. Guerrero put her back in the car and took her to his apartment, where he raped her again. Little fell asleep, and when she awoke he was raping her again. Afterward, he showered and drover her to her car.
Little was reluctant to tell anyone at Windermere about the rape because, in her own words, “I knew how important the Starbucks account was to Mr. Glew. Mr. Glew would ask me on a consistent basis the status of the account and I was afraid that if I told him about the rape, he would see me as an impediment to obtaining the Starbucks account.” This belief was reinforced when, a few days after the rape, Little reported the rape to Chris Delay, Director of Relocation Services (apparently not one of Little’s supervisors), and Delay advised her not to tell anyone in management. Little believed that Delay feared “what might happen to [Little] if [she] did tell.”
On October 23, about nine days after the rape, Little reported it to Peggy Scott, the Vice President of Operations, who was designated in Windermere’s Harassment Policy as a complaint-receiving manager. Little described Scott’s response:
She came out around the desk and I could tell she was upset and she just gave me a hug and said she wished there was something she could do. She didn't understand what I was going through. She asked me if I was in therapy. Then she proceeded to tell me she wouldn't say anything to [Glew] unless I proceeded to seek legal action [against Dan Guerrero].
Scott told Little that "[s]he thought it would be best that [Little] try to put it behind [her] and to keep working in therapy," and that she should discontinue working on the Starbucks account. She did not give Little any advice about going to the police, and she did not conduct an investigation of Little's complaint or any follow-up interview with Little. Scott testified in her deposition that, because the rape occurred outside the "working environment," she believed that it fell outside the scope of Windermere's Harassment Policy.
Despite Little's supposed removal from the Starbucks account, Glew continued to ask her about the status of the Starbucks account during the next six weeks. "[As of December 2,] Gayle was asking me questions about Starbucks ... a couple of times every month to see what the status was." Concerned by Glew's questions, Little told her immediate supervisor, Linda Bellisario, the Vice President of Sales and Marketing, on December 2, 1997, about the rape. Little had been reluctant to tell Bellisario because she "felt that [Bellisario] would immediately go to Gayle and Gayle would terminate my position.... I knew how much this account meant to him. He said he would do whatever it took to get this account." Bellisario told Little to inform Glew of the incident.
When Little told Glew of the rape, which, according to Glew, was the first he had heard of it, Glew's" immediate response was that he did not want to hear anything about it." He told Little that she would have to respond to his attorneys. Glew then informed her that he was restructuring her salary from $3,000 monthly to $2,000 monthly plus $250 per closed transaction. The pay reduction was effective immediately and non-negotiable. Bellisario, who was present at that portion of the meeting, appeared "surprised and upset" to Little.
Little found the pay cut unacceptable, and Glew told her to go home for two days to think it over "because he did not want any `clouds in the office.'" When Little still found the pay cut unacceptable two days later, Glew told her it would be best if she moved on and that she should clean out her desk.
Little brought suit against Windermere, alleging unlawful discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, and the Revised Code of Washington § 49.60; wrongful discharge in violation of public policy; and intentional, reckless, and/or negligent infliction of emotional distress. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Windermere on all four claims.
Little appealed dismissal of her claims, and the appeals court reversed in part, and ruled:
In sum, taking the facts in the light most favorable to Little, because her employer effectively condoned a rape by a business colleague and its effects, Little was subjected to an abusive work environment that "detract[ed] from [her] job performance, discourage[d] [her] from remaining on the job, [and kept her] from advancing in [her] career."
Incredibly, Windermere asked for a rehearing, but "...the panel has voted to deny the petition for rehearing and to reject the suggestion for rehearing en banc.
DON'T DONATE OR BUY CONCERTS TICKETS TO SEATTLE PRO MUSICA CHORAL GROUP DETAILS HERE
THE CORPORATE HYPOCRITE PERSONIFIED: Windermere Services Company's General Counsel, attorney Paul S. Drayna, exploits the pretense of charitable public service at Seattle Pro Musica while he's simultaneously ruining damaged Windermere customers with false marketing warranties and the costly, mendacious lawsuits he files against defrauded Windermere victims who speak publicly. Drayna sues an outspoken party for trade libel and defamation, tries to coerce the defendant into silence through fear and intimidation, continues to prosecute the bogus action for years, and then voluntarily dismisses his own lawsuit just before trial when the innocent, honest victim persists in refusing to sign away their speech rights. Such are the ethics of the individual who manages Seattle Pro Musica's legal affairs, a tax-exempt 501(c)3 charitable organization, funded by tax deductible contributions. DETAILS HERE
DOWNLOAD A PDF COPY OF THE WINDERMEREWATCH.COM PRO MUSICA LETTER TO SHARE WITH AN INTERESTED PARTY
Windermere Real Estate Northwest, Inc., Agent Howard Johnson, Broker and Branch Manager Loretta Larson, Sued for Violation of the Washington State Securities Act (WSSA), Negligence, Negligent Misrepresentation, Negligent Supervision (Against Windermere and Larson), Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Violation of Washington's Consumer Protection Act
(Above left to right) Steven Kieburtz, CEO and Owner, Windermere Real Estate/Northwest; April Kieburtz, President, Designated Broker, and Owner Windermere Real Estate/Northwest; and Loretta Larson, Manager and Broker, Windermere Real Estate/Northwest
Read the complete report here.
Windermere Freeland Agents Saul and Gabelein’s Abuse of a Vulnerable Adult...
“Emma has sold property to members of the Gabelein family for a fraction of its value, jeopardizing her ability to remain in her home for the remainder of her life.”
(Above left to right) Windermere Freeland Agents Samantha Saul, Linda Gabelein, and Windermere Freeland Broker Barbara Mearing , about whom... "The court gives Ms. Mearing's testimony little weight."
What follows here is perhaps the single most despicable example of Windermere Real Estate’s shamelessly persistent and egregious contempt for the justice system, human decency, and not to mention, its very own customers. Customers who’ve been damaged through the actions of greedy and unethical Windermere agents and brokers—whom Windermere defends, no matter what their conduct.
John Demco is the ethically elastic Windermere kingpin lawyer who operates Demco Law, Windermere’s in-house legal firm, whose primary job it is to stall and outspend small fry consumers damaged by dishonest Windermere brokers and agents. When an innocent real estate consumer has the misfortune to suffer one of Windermere’s many bad apples, Demco Law will refuse to settle the matter forthrightly, no matter what conspicuously unlawful or offensive conduct the agent or broker has committed. Demco and Windermere will force the aggrieved party to sue or swallow their damage and go away. It’s basic Windermere complaint strategy.
And it’s the basic common thread that all cases here reported share. Nobody who’s buying or selling a house starts out EXPECTING to be victimized by their real estate company, but in all the cases listed here, It’s Windermere agents and brokers who’ve made preemptive strikes of fraudulent misconduct at unsuspecting clients, who are then forced onto the Windermere litigation treadmill, seeking equitable relief that will never come. Because in truth—unless you’re rich—your peace of mind and hard-won financial future are probably over the very moment that preemptive, unlawful Windermere strike is perpetrated against you by your Windermere agent or broker—or both.
If you have any experience at all with our justice system, you know its costly lawyers and clogged, dysfunctional courts actually work in favor of perpetrators and against aggrieved parties, because of the immense time and expense involved in pursuing justice. In other words, when your Windermere agent or broker perpetrates that initial offense—of which you will no doubt be unaware until after the fact—your happy life and future is over RIGHT THEN, because you’ll be forced to chase that Windermere crook through the courts forever, probably all the way to the supreme court of your state—maybe 6, 8 or 10 years! So even if you win, you lose.
And wouldn’t you know… Windermere lawyer John Demco is also a Windermere real estate broker, too. He owns interest in, at last count, 7 Windermere offices, including one in Freeland, Washington, where two of his agents, Samantha Saul and Linda Gabelein—a mother and daughter team—violated Washington State’s Abuse of Vulnerable Adults Act by exploiting and exerting undue influence upon vulnerable widow Emma Endicott of Whidbey Island. Over the years, Saul and Gabelein were able to gain Endicott’s confidence as part of her extended family, and were eventually able to unduly prevail upon Endicott to convey portions of her prime Whidbey Island property portfolio to the Saul and Gabelein families at prices dramatically below their true and fair market value. And in another odd, suspicious scenario, Endicott became persuaded her own sons had abused her after Saul visited her in the hospital.
Perhaps Saul and Gabelein were emboldened just by knowing that the owner of their particular Windermere shop—John Demco—wasn’t just any old RE broker. He was Windermere’s hardboiled legal torpedo, too. In a conflicted and unsavory setup, Demco was both employer and owner of the agents’ brokerage, profiting on any transactions there; while he and his law firm also defended Saul and Gabelein in court. Windermere is never bashful about the propriety of such arrangements.
Demco is listed as a Governing Person of Windermere Freeland with April and Steven Kieburtz. Demco and the Kieburtzes are listed as Governing People of Windermere brokerages in Monroe (with Deborah Kay Smith, also listed); Poulsbo (with Carol Sue Rogers, also listed); Oak Harbor, Seattle, Clinton and two Windermere offices in Langley. Another Kieburtz-owned Windermere office—Windermere Northwest—is recently in the news again, sued for alleged violation of the Washington State Securities Act (WSSA), among other claims—click to that story here.
Demco and and other Demco Law attorneys, including professional prevaricator Matthew F. Davis, and lawyer L’Nayim Shuman-Austin, defended agents Gabelein and Saul at trial, who not only suffered resounding defeat, but were strongly rebuked by island County Superior Court Judge Vickie L. Churchill in a long, sensitive and articulate Findings Of Fact & Conclusions Of Law. We strongly suggest reading the whole document, but here are some highlights:
• P 3, L 19: “Emma has spent most of her life living quietly in the family home, which is in a small neighborhood overlooking scenic views of Mutiny Bay, on Whidbey Island. Emma has never had a driver’s license, or a checking account, or a credit card.”
• P 4, L 6: “…Emma inherited the family acreage outright after Shorty’s death in 1998. …After his death, Emma took over managing the family finances and the property.”
• P 4, L 15: “Emma is related by marriage to the respondents. Emma’s brother, John Ohm, is married to Vernon Gabelein’s sister, Ruth Gabelein Ohm. Samantha (“Sam”) Saul, daughter of Vernon’s wife, Linda Gabelein, is married to Bob Saul, a long-time friend of the twins since grade school.”
• P 6, L 3: “But since Shorty’s death, Emma has sold 15 acres of property, in 3 separate transactions, at below market value. Emma sold the property to the Sauls, to the Gabeleins, and to the Thompsons, all of whom are members of the same family.”
• P 7, L 13: “Samantha acted as dual agent for Emma and for her sister and brother-in-law.”
• P 8, L 4: “Samantha testified that she did not suggest a price to her sister when the Thompsons made an offer. The court does not find that testimony credible…”
• P 8, L 17: “The assessor’s value in 2001 for the property that they bought was $195,524, yet the Sauls bought the property for $80,000.”
• P 9, L 15: “Samantha asserts that she believed that $80,000 was, ‘in the range of what was reasonable.’ However, just two years after the Sauls bought this property, they applied for a home construction loan, in July of 2004. In their application, they told the bank the property was worth $400,000.”
• P 10, L 6: “Shortly after Emma’s sale to her daughter, Samantha, Linda Gabelein, who is also a real estate agent, approached Emma and asked her to sell the five-acre parcel next to Samantha’s property to Linda and her husband.”
• P 12, L 15: “Within three years of her husband’s death, Emma started selling property that had been in her husband’s family since 1947 and property that had been in her family since sometime long before 1976 and that she had owned since 1976. All of the property was sold to members of the family of Linda and Vernon Gabelein, with Samantha Saul involved in each one. All of the property was sold at bargain prices, below its fair market value.”
• P 14, L 12; “The court finds that the comparables submitted by Linda and Samantha were obviously prepared for purposes of this litigation, and the court has given them little or no weight."
• P 15, L 4: “The court finds that the Gabeleins made an active effort to keep Emma’s last property sale a secret from Emma’s younger sons and from anyone else who might have objected.”
• P 15, L 14: “The sale to the Gabeleins was processed as a boundary line adjustment, which also served to keep the transaction private.”
• P 16, L 18: “Adding to the secrecy, the Gabeleins had the sale closed in Everett, although their general practice was to have other sales closed on the island.”
• P 17, L 21: “Barbara Mearing, Samantha and Linda’s real estate broker, represented the Gabeleins in their purchase of property from Emma and earned a $7,500 commission from the sale. Ms Mearing testified that she was aware that the $150,000 sale price was low, but ‘not horribly low’. She also testified that the assessor’s values are not “spot on” and that sometime property sells for less or more than the assessed value. She said that it is always hard to estimate value but that she respected the fact that the seller gets to choose the price that he or she wants. "The court gives Ms. Mearing’s testimony little weight.”
• P 47, L 13: “Emma has sold property to members of the Gabelein family for a fraction of its value, jeopardizing her ability to remain in her home for the remainder of her life.”
• P 50, L 4: “The court concludes that Emma is a vulnerable adult who has been exploited by the Sauls and the Gabeleins. The Gabeleins and the Sauls have gained Emma’s confidence, are aware that they have the ability to exert undue influence over Emma, and, in fact, have exerted undue influence over Emma.”
Windermere appealed of course, and failed again.
Ms. Mearing is still at Windermere Freeland, Whidbey Island. Meanwhile, Samantha Saul and Linda Gabelein now ply their craft at Kensington Properties, 5595 Harbor Ave., Freeland, WA 98249.
WINDERMERE ATTORNEY AND FRANCHISE OWNER JOHN DEMCO'S AGENTS' ABUSE, UNDUE INFLUENCE and EXPLOITATION OF A VULNERABLE ADULT
SOUND BUILT HOMES V. WINDERMERE REAL ESTATE SOUTH: "Accordingly, Sound Built is now entitled to a judgment against Windermere..."
"DUAL AGENCY IS PERILOUS" says Court. "...Windermere did not advise the Lunsfords that it would present the Thomas offer." LUNSFORD v. FRALEY
EARNEST MONEY FORFEITURE: Court rules "...plain language of RCW 64.04.005 does not allow substantial compliance..." CHRISP v. GOLL
WINDERMERE FRANCHISE NEWS: 21 FORMER WINDERMERE CALIFORNIA OFFICES HAVE NOW DROPPED THE WINDERMERE BRAND
THE PUGET SOUND BUSINESS JOURNAL'S "BATTLE OF THE BRANDS" READER PROMOTION INCLUDES DECLINING WINDERMERE BRAND
Windermere's Commonwealth Land Title of Puget Sound—AKA CW Title—Sued for Slander of Title and CPA Violation: Dismissal Update
WINDERMERE REAL ESTATE SERVICES, WINDERMERE SOCAL, WINDERMERE COACHELLA VALLEY SUED FOR WRONGFUL DEATH DUE TO NEGLIGENCE
WINDERMERE PROPERTY MGMT. APPEALS SMALL CLAIMS DECISION, COURT DISMISSES APPEAL, ORDERS JUDGMENT—AND WINDERMERE STILL WON'T PAY!!!
A LEGAL BRIEF and YOUR RIGHT TO KNOW: THE SUPERSEDEAS APPEAL BOND—and PAUL STICKNEY WINDERMERE SCA's CURRENT LISTINGS
UNDER INVESTIGATION BY THE FBI & U.S. ATTORNEY: WINDERMERE COACHELLA VALLEY, BENNION & DEVILLE FINE HOMES LITIGATION
FOOL, LIAR, AMATEUR AND CRAVEN BULLY: LAW OFFICE REVIEW OF PAUL STEPHEN DRAYNA, WASHINGTON STATE'S MOST UNETHICAL, PROCESS-ABUSING LAWYER
WHY THE PUBLIC IS REFUSING TO BUY TICKETS TO SEATTLE PRO MUSICA'S CELTIC CHRISTMAS, BACH'S ST. JOHN PASSION, and RESONANCE VENETIAN MASTERS CONCERTS
Co-Owner of Windermere Mount Vernon/Skagit Valley and Windermere Anacortes Properties, Nate Scott; also Sales Manager Colleen Craig, and Agent Meredith Laws of Windermere Anacortes Properties, Sued for Fraud in Mysteriously Appearing “2nd Listing” Case
(Above left to right) Nate Scott, Windermere Anacortes Owner; Windermere Anacortes Sales Manager Colleen Craig; and Windermere Anacortes Realtor Meredith Laws.
Plaintiff Wendelin Dunlap of Skagit County, single mother of an autistic, special needs five year-old; and a Natural Spa & Body Care Products entrepreneur, filed a Complaint in NO: 09-2-00178-5 Skagit County Superior Court, against Windermere Real Estate / Anacortes; and Regal Hospitality, LLC, and naming as Defendants:
Nathan Scott, a licensed Washington State real estate broker; Owner and Branch Manager of Windermere Real Estate / Anacortes Properties / Terra Corp; Scott also co-owns Windermere Mt. Vernon, and;
Colleen Craig of Windermere Real Estate / Anacortes Properties, a licensed Washington State real estate salesperson, Windermere Anacortes Properties Sales Manager and;
Meredith Laws of Windermere Real Estate / Anacortes Properties, a licensed Washington State real estate salesperson, and;
Regal Hospitality, LLC, a Washington State limited liability company, 419 Commercial Ave., Anacortes, WA 98221; original borrower and seller of 401 Commercial Avenue, Anacortes, WA 98221, and;
Guy Davidson, Registered Agent of Regal Hospitality, LLC; and original Windermere Anacortes listing agent of 401 Commercial Avenue, Anacortes, WA 98221.
The Causes of Action In Dunlap’s Complaint are:
FRAUD “… The Defendants, or their agents or employees, represented that they would sell the property composed of Seven Thousand Five Hundred (7,500) square feet as understood by Plaintiff. This was a representation of an existing material fact that the Defendants knew was false, that was in fact false, and that the Defendants, intended the Plaintiff to rely upon, knowing full well that the Plaintiff was not aware of the truth of the matter.”
CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT “… During the course of their operation of the business, defendants, Scott and Davidson, engaged in an unfair or deceptive act or practice by representing to Plaintiff and by continuously failing to inform Plaintiff that the property did not include Three Thousand (3,000) square feet of the Seven Thousand Five Hundred (7,500) square feet the Plaintiff understood would be included in the transaction, and as per the listing.”
NEGLIGENT MISREPRESENTATION (IN THE ALTERNATIVE) “… The Defendants failed to disclose to the Plaintiff that the property did not include Three Thousand (3,000) square feet of the Seven Thousand Five Hundred (7,500) square feet that the Plaintiff understood would be included in the transaction, knowing that the Plaintiff would be induced to to purchase the property.”
BREACH OF STATUTORY DUTIES PURSUANT TO RCW 18.86 et seq. AND COMMON LAW NEGLIGENCE. “… Defendants Laws, Craig and Scott were negligent and breached their fiduciary duties of care owed to plaintiffs, including but not limited to the duty to exercise reasonable skill and care and to deal honestly and in good faith, and disclose material in violation of applicable common law and statutory duties.”
BREACH OF CONTRACT (IN THE ALTERNATIVE) "...Defendant Regal Hospitality, LLC is liable to the Plaintiff for breach of contract."
A Dream to Prosper and Grow in a Restored, Classic Old Anacortes Building...
In her well-crafted 401 PRESENTATION.pdf that we recommend you download and read, Ms. Dunlap writes: “Preserving Old Town Anacortes — One Building at a Time. I purchased 401 Commercial with a dream… Finance an amazing architectural project saving one more original 1900’s building from destruction.” Dunlap was going to operate her rising products operation and produce rental income from the historic, old Anacortes edifice she purchased through Windermere Anacortes.
But, as it is in so many other cases of Windermere Real Estate’s dishonest and predatory conduct, Dunlap’s entire own financial freedom, investment bankroll, credit, health and bright future in business have been ruined by Windermere’s primary predatory tactic—commit the crime, unethical misconduct or misrepresentation FIRST, and then FORCE the damaged, unsuspecting Windermere client to sue and spend literally EVERYTHING they have chasing Windermere crooks through endless legal maneuvers and the bankrupting cost of civil dispute litigation. Through her ordeal, Dunlap has experienced serious health complications and the loss of funding for her autistic child’s special needs therapy. And if you’ve ever used our dysfunctional legal system, you’ll know that the unyielding stress associated with constant, emotionally grueling legal disputes will manifest in serious, personal health events.
Dunlap’s articulate and detailed evidentiary 401 Presentation recounts an elaborate and convoluted scheme to defraud her—after the actual purchase—out of 3,000 square feet from a commercial building transaction in which she thought she legally purchased a total of 7500 square feet. There are questions about Chicago Title’s role in the controversy, as well.
In July of 2008, Dunlap offered on a commercial listing by Windermere Anacortes Realtor Guy Davidson, at 401 Commercial Avenue in downtown Anacortes. Dunlap had previously done business with Defendants Nathan Scott, Colleen Craig, and Meredith Laws of Windermere Anacortes Properties, and “…trusted their level of professionalism so did not question when the Commercial Purchase and Sale Agreement (CIREPSA) did not contain a copy of the listing to initial.” She received a commitment for title insurance from Chicago Title and compared it with Skagit County Public Records, which agreed on both descriptions. She commissioned a survey of the property based on the commitment for title insurance and the Skagit County Public Records for her tax parcel, and the parcel she intended to buy was clearly staked by a surveyor. The survey was then provided to Windermere agents Laws/Craig, and Chicago Title during feasibility. The survey identified an encroachment of .12 to .10 inches onto Seller/Windermere Realtor/Regal Hospitality Agent Guy Davidson’s adjoining Majestic Inn property; and it also encroached the adjoining city owned property.
Ms. Dunlap received an easement prepared by Windermere Anacortes Agents Laws/Craig, Chicago Title, and the Owner/Seller/Windermere Commercial Realtor Guy Davidson. The purchase closed at the Chicago Title office on August 22nd of 2008, but on August 26th, Dunlap found cars parked on her property.
In an email, she notified Scott, Craig and Laws that “… Somebody might want to alert the Majestic that the property they sold for 550k is no longer theirs.” She was then informed for the first time that the advertised listing that prompted her offer was “…not supposed to be posted” and was ‘…supposed to have been removed from Windermere’s Commercial Web Site in 2007.” Yet the listing had still not been removed 5 days after her own closing. Windermere Anacortes’ Nate Scott confirmed that the listing had indeed been live [on the internet], but said it should have been cancelled. In what appears a ridiculous, gobbledygook, Realtor agglomeration dance of meaningless mumbo-jumbo, Nate Scott replied in the email, “Yes, the listing on that site, not controlled by us, was a listing of that property from 2006, cancelled in mid-2007. The new listing, WHICH ALSO SHOWED UP (Editor’s emphasis added.), was listed in early 2008 and had 4,500 sq ft, and was the listing that showed on any other site out there. We don’t know why the old listing didn’t come off that site, but have asked them to explain.” Scott concluded his email to Dunlap with, “…I understand this isn’t a great moment for you…”
Dunlap has proof that property owner/seller Guy Davidson was managing a CBA listing for the property on 1/24/08, with an expiration date of 9/30/08. In fact, there is also evidence that Davidson updated the listing on 8/26/08 to reflect its having been sold on 8/22/98. Yet Guy Davidson denied under oath to having managed the listing at all. Dunlap was further informed that the word “partial” was inserted after the tax parcel number in the Purchase Agreement Legal Description, and was intended to inform her that the tax parcel would be subdivided upon closing to convey 3,000 square feet less than was advertised. In her presentation, Dunlap states “I was Informed for the 1st Time that: 3. Allegedly a ‘Revised Commitment for Title Insurance’ was created on July 14th 2008 to correct errors I found 8 DAYS BEFORE I RECEIVED THE PRELIMINARY COMMITMENT.” (Editor’s emphasis added.)
In a questionable Declaration—the unsworn Declaration being one of Windermere’s most dubious, murky tools—Chicago Title’s Mary Mansfield spontaneously and mysteriously declares, “The legal description in that Preliminary Title Commitment was in error and was subsequently corrected.”
Dunlap found Chicago Title’s amended commitment lacked several components. And Interestingly, the amended Second Commitment For Title Insurance was signed not by the prior Title Officer, Kauleen Shelton—who signed Dunlap’s initial Commitment For Title Insurance—but by an individual about whom Dunlap was later told by Chicago Title Escrow Officer Mary Mansfield, did not work there anymore—Mansfield told Dunlap she could not divulge the mystery individual’s contact information because it was none of her business and not part of her sale; Mansfield said that the employee had been terminated and there was no contact information available.
Dunlap’s closing agreement and escrow instructions made no mention of a Second Commitment for Title Insurance, but instead referenced the Preliminary Commitment for Title Insurance. She was then presented with a SUPPLEMENT to the closing agreement and escrow instructions on August 27th, 2008—five days after closing—and the supplement only referenced the Preliminary Commitment for Title Insurance. So the obvious question arises: Why, at that late date, wouldn’t the supplement reflect the alleged Second Commitment for Title Insurance which was created on July 14th, 2008?
Sellers and Dunlap were both required to initial provision 3, specifically reiterating that the contract was based on the Preliminary Commitment for Title Insurance. Also on August 27, 2008, Dunlap was informed for the for the first time that her Windermere agents Meredith Laws and Colleen Craig were alleged to be the “Exclusive Listing Agents for the Property"—dual agency requiring disclosure by law, but not disclosed to Dunlap. Windermere Anacortes Realtor and Majestic/Regal Registered Agent Seller Guy Davidson was represented as the listing agent on all advertisements Dunlap had ever seen. In research, she established that Laws/Craig had an on-and-off history with the property in question. Evidence shows that a 2006 listing of the 401 Commercial property was listed with Laws/Craig, and then apparently transferred to Nate Scott the same day.
Also on August 27, 2008, Dunlap says she was informed that her Purchase Agreement was allegedly drafted from a “2nd LISTING FOR THE PROPERTY (CONTAINING 4500 SQ FT LESS LAND) (Editor’s emphasis added.) even though it was never represented to me before closing, not included as part of the Purchase Agreement & not made available to the public.” No copy of the listing, copy of the deed, or official representation was included as part of her purchase agreement.
In a Memorandum in support of her claims filed with the court, Ms. Dunlap states “Chicago Title has refused to honor the Title Insurance citing the creation of a fraudulent ‘Second Commitment for Title Insurance’ allegedly created on July 14th 2008 because of the error I discovered on August 21st 2008 — which seems physically impossible without the aid of time travel.”
Time travel or not, Windermere and Demco Law will no-doubt trek all the way up to the state supreme court, in an effort to prove H. G. Wells’ Time Machine is a real contraption of which Windermere Real Estate / Anacortes Properties, Chicago Title, and Guy Davidson have all availed themselves of while dealing with Wendelin Dunlap of Skagit County. To really understand this complicated Windermere case, we again recommend Ms. Dunlap’s 401 Presentation. Litigation is ongoing in this case, and Dunlap lists her total damages at $1,346,121.86.
Just by forcing an unsuspecting, victimized Windermere client through our expensive, unjust, and corrupt legal system, Public Predator Windermere Real Estate has interrupted and ruined yet another innocent individual’s happy and healthy life. Windermere personnel initially strike unsuspecting consumers first by committing these outrageous schemes and ethical crimes, while the victims are then forced by Windermere to chase their crooks through the courts for years. Then Windermere goes right on collecting commissions and fees from those very agents, brokers, and franchise owners which it already knows affirmatively are unethical and dishonest real estate people.
Don’t let it happen to you. If you're currently doing business with Windermere through any office in any state where Windermere operates, protect your life and assets by cancelling or not renewing your Windermere listing. If you're considering doing business with Windermere at any time in the future, consider very, very carefully. (Back to top.)
Maria Kalafatich of Windermere Professional Partners, Tacoma, Sued for Negligent Misrepresentation, Fraud and Fraudulent Concealment, Rescission, Violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act, Professional Negligence / Violation of RCW 18.86.030. Leslie Walters of Windermere Commencement Associates, Tacoma, Sued for Professional Negligence / Violation of RCW 18.86.030. Defendants Windermere Professional Partners LLC and Windermere Commencement Associates Inc. Sued for Vicarious Liability Under RCW 18.85.155 as Liable for the Tortius Conduct of Defendants Kalafatich and Walters.
Above L to R: Windermere Professional Partners' Maria Kalafatich, who states on her Windermere web page that "My clients appreciate my integrity..." Windermere Commencement Associates' Leslie Walters. Windermere Commencement Associates owners David Siding and Dick Beeson. Windermere Professional Partners owner Michael Robinson. READ THE FULL COMPLAINT HERE
Windermere Real Estate / Allen & Associates' Agent Deliberate Non-Disclosure of Home's Prior Use as Pot Farm and Methamphetamine Laboratory
(Left) Gone but not forgotten: Lance Miller from Windermere Real Estate/Allen & Associates
Eva and Eddie Bloor relocated to Longview, in Washington State, and purchased a home from Charmaine and Robert Fritz through Lance Miller at Windermere Real Estate/Allen & Associates, who served as dual agent for both for both parties. The Fritzes and Miller both opted to withhold their knowledge that the onetime rental property had been a site for marijuana farming and methamphetamine production. Windermere and Miller were cognizant of the property’s prior use because Windermere staff managed the rental home months earlier when a drug raid occurred, and they subsequently issued a notice of eviction on the tenants after learning of their illicit operation. Locals all herd the news, including the Fritzes, who conversed about it with others.
RCW 64.06.020, with its very pertinent and mandatory Seller Disclosure Statement question, “Has the property been used as an illegal drug manufacturing site?” had been checked “No” by Fritz in the presence of Miller, and the form was later conveyed to the Bloors, who occupied the residence and only later learned of their new home’s toxic past from neighbors and news stories.
Mrs. Bloor queried the health department as to decontamination, officials concluded the home to be unfit for human habitation, and compelled the Bloors to abandon the place with nothing but what they were wearing at the moment. Mr. Bloor was not even granted brief consideration to retrieve the tools by which made a living. The Bloors filed a complaint against the Fritzes, agent Miller, Windermere and franchiser Windermere Services Company, plus Cowlitz County. With Bloors eventually prevailing, the trial court granted recision—an unwinding of their real estate transaction—and also their damages both jointly and severally on loss of wages and personal property, lost use of the home itself, emotional distress, and ruin of the Bloor’s credit.
In typical stall mode, Windermere-Miller parties appealed, but lost again. As part of the costly and lengthy appeals process, the appellant files a brief to which the respondent answers, after which the appellant is afforded reply.
COURT SAYS WINIDERMERE CAMANO ISLAND'S SONYA EPPIG "...DID NOT SO UNEQUIVOCALLY SET FORTH THE PERMITTING AND INSPECTION PROBLEMS."
(Left) Sonya Eppig of Windermere / Camano Island, agent in the Ruebel case. In April of 2009, seven years after victimizing the Ruebels—and at the urging of other Windermere victims—Eppig's license was finally suspended for a paltry 90 days by the Department of Licensing. As has also been reported elsewhere, from a call to Windermere receptionist Cindi in May of 2009, Eppig was still representing Windermere anyway.
Thomas and Diane E. Ruebel became interested in Camano Island home being sold by Mike Hovis. The Ruebels had representation by Sonya Eppig of Windermere / Camano Island Realty. Mr Hovis had been remodeling the property since 1995 and the interior was yet to be completed. Unbeknownst to the Ruebels, Hovis had been cited by the Camano Island County Building Department for not having officially approved framing specifications and engineering drawings. An expert testified that the building’s structural integrity had been compromised. Hovis had installed wall treatments that hid the problems. Prior to the Ruebels, another buyer determined the home’s impediments, at which time Windermere entered in dialog with the County.
During the Ruebels’ initial purchase of the property, Eppig was involved in the permit and inspection concerns. Hovis and Eppig both proffered clear misrepresentations to the Ruebels about the status of the property. Through vaguely wording an addendum put into the closing papers, Hovis and Eppig sought to “disclose” the home’s impediments without actually revealing them. After closing, the Ruebels found the extent of the property’s damage was so severe, the most economical course of action would be to raze it to the foundation and build over.
The Ruebels sued Hovis, Eppig and Windermere. A jury concluded that Eppig and Windermere were jointly liable under the Consumer Protection Act, and awarded the Ruebels both damages and legal fees. Ruebels won again on appeal. Judge Ann Schindler of the Washington Court of Appeals said in the Court’s opinion, “Eppig helped draft a revised addendum that did not so unequivocally set forth the permitting and inspection problems. And when Camano Realty listed the Hovis property for approximately two years, Camano learned about the permitting and inspection problems but did not inform the Ruebels.”
Csaba Kiss at Windermere Real Estate/East was “…far more inclined to let a court decide” the Popchois warranty rights “than to spend money to settle” the Popchois warranty claim."
(Left) Windermere Real Estate East Associate Broker Csaba Kiss.
YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT A WINDERMERE ASSOCIATE BROKER MIGHT BE DOING...
This taken straight from No. 07-2-08247-6 SEA "Defendants Popochoi's Answer, Affirmative Defenses, Counterclaims and Third Party Claims"
D. THIRD PARTY CLAIM
1. THIRD PARTY PLAINTIFF. Ivan G. Popchoi and Varvara M. Popchoi, husband and wife, purchased the real property legally described in Exhibit A to this Third Party Complaint from Csaba Kiss, pursuant to a Statutory Warranty Deed.
2. THIRD PARTY DEFENDANT. Third Party Defendant Csaba Kiss is a single person who sold the real property to the Popchois legally described in the Exhibit A to this Third Party Complaint, by Statutory Warranty, dated May 4, 2006. At all times relevant to this lawsuit, Csaba Kiss has been a sophisticated, professional real estate sales person.
3. FACTS RELEVANT TO THIRD PARTY CLAIM.
3.1 On May 4, 2006, Csaba Kiss conveyed the real property legally described in Exhibit A to this Third Party Complaint to Ivan and Varvara Popchoi by Statutory Warranty deed, which stated, in part, that Csaba Kiss “conveys and warrants” the legally described property to Ivan G. and Varvara M. Popchoi. At the time that he signed the Statutory Warranty Deed, Csaba Kiss knew from the sale negotiations that the Popchois purchased the property to build a new home on it, then to sell the property after a year.
3.2 The real property that Csaba Kiss warranted and conveyed to Ivan and Varvara Popchoi includes the real property to which Plaintiffs Edmondson claim ownership by adverse possession.
3.3 To satisfy City of Bellevue requirements for developing the real property, the Popchois had their property surveyed and had the surveyor stake the boundaries at the corners. On August 18, 2006, shortly after the surveyor had completed staking the corner boundaries of the lot, the Edmondsons’ attorney, Joshua Sundt, notified the Popchois by letter that the Edmondsons’ claimed ownership by adverse possession of a portion of the property that Csaba Kiss had conveyed to the Popchois’ by Statutory Warranty deed.
3.4 The Popchois retained attorney David Paul Williams to advise them concerning the Edmondsons’ adverse possession claim and to assert their rights under the Statutory Warranty Deed. Mr. Williams promptly notified Csaba Kiss of the Edmondsons’ adverse possession claim by letter, dated August 31 2006, a true and correct copy of which is attached to this Third Party Complaint as Exhibit B. The letter was sent to Mr. Kiss by first class mail, and also by certified mail, return receipt requested.
3.5 Mr. Wlliams’ August 31, 2006 letter to Csaba Kiss advised Mr. Kiss that time was of the essence in eliminating the Edmondsons’ claim because the foundation of the Popchois’ new residence was scheduled to be poured the following week. Mr. Williams’ letter urged Mr. Kiss that, under warranty, Mr. Kiss would be liable for the Popchois’ attorneys fees in responding to the adverse possession claim and requested that Mr. Kiss keep attorney Williams apprised of Mr. Kiss’s efforts to resolve the Edmondsons’ claims so that the Popchois’ attorneys fees may be kept to a minimum.
3.6 By letter dated September 6, 2006, Mr. Williams notified Csaba Kiss that the Popchois had delayed pouring the foundation for the residence to September 11, 2006 to allow Mr. Kiss additional time to resolve the Edmondsons’ adverse possession claim. Mr. Williams further stated that “no further delays can be expected as every day of delay costs my clients money. All consequences of any failure to act on your part rest solely with you.”
3.7 Csaba Kiss failed to respond to David Williams’ letters, so Mr. Williams personally undertook negotiations with Joshua Sundt, the Edmondsons’ attorney, to reach a negotiated resolution of the Edmondsons’ adverse possession claim. By letter to Csaba Kiss dated October 6, 2006, Mr. Williams notified Mr. Kiss that the Edmondsons had been unwilling to accept any of Mr. Williams’ offers to resolve their adverse possession claim by agreement and that the Popchois were asserting claims against Mr. Kiss for “Breach of one or more warranties given when you conveyed the property to my clients.” Mr. Williams’ letter urged Mr. Kiss once again to retain an attorney to take steps to cure his breaches of warranty and title by purchasing whatever property rights the Edmondsons claim. Mr. Wlliams reminded Mr. Kiss that the Popchois “intend to complete construction of their new home and sell it within a year at which time they must be able to convey clear title to their purchaser.” Mr. Williams requested a response to his letter by October 16, 2007.
3.8 On October 17, 2006, Melanie A. Leary, an attorney with the Demco Law Firm, P.S., sent Mr. Williams a written response to his October 6, 2006 letter. Ms. Leary advised Mr. Williams that she represented Mr. Kiss and relayed Mr. Kiss’s position that the Popchois were not entitled to the protection of the warranties provided by the Statutory Warranty deed executed by Mr. Kiss. Ms. Leary’s letter notified Mr. Williams that Mr. Kiss was “far more inclined to let a court decide” the Popchois’ warranty rights “than to spend money to settle” the Popchois warranty claim.” (Editor’s note: bold emphasis added.)
Windermere Real Estate East Associate Broker Csaba Kiss got what he wanted, and a court did indeed decide:
1. Judgment is hereby entered in favor of Ivan G. Popchoi and Varvara M. Popchoi and against Csaba Kiss in the total amount of $44,885,39, comprised of:
A. $30,281.90 in fees and costs that the Popchois to defend their title against the Edmondsons’ adverse possession claim,
B. $10,993.63 that the Popchois paid Csaba Kiss for land that the Edmondsons owned by adverse possession,
C. $3,609.86 in interest on the $10,993.63 payment, calculated from May 4, 2006, the date of payment to January 23, 2009, plus with $3.628 additional interest accruing each day after January 23, 2009 until the date that Judgment is entered.”
At WindermereWatch we are always gratified when parties like the Popchois, who are damaged by Windermere people, have the resilience, tenacity and resources to go the legal distance and prevail in court. But we must ask the obvious rhetorical question: Who needs the hassle? You're better off at Coldwell Banker, John L. Scott, Keller Williams, Century 21, RE/MAX or Prudential.
Csaba Kiss was garnished to satisfy the Judgment against him, and is still working for Windermere.
"SHE TRIED TO PUSH ME BY TELLING ME THAT SHE HAD A CASH OFFER ON A PROPERTY I ALREADY HAD AN ACCEPTED OFFER ON..." Andrea Turnage of Windermere Real Estate, Indian Wells, California: "One of the worst experiences in real estate I've ever had..." and "...extremely unprofessional and unethical..."
Left: Andrea Turnage of Windermere Coachella Valley, Indian
Wells office. Dennis R. of Alameda, California, posted the following on Yelp:
"One of the worst experiences in real estate I've ever had. The agent by the name of Andrea Turnage has a serious lack of ethics. I was a buyer for one of the properties she was the listing agent for. She was extremely unprofessional and unethical. She tried to push me by telling me that she had a cash offer on a property I already had an accepted offer on, and that her new offer was for full price and a 2 week escrow close. I told her I was backing out of the deal and she should take the cash offer with the two week close. I also told her that I would monitor the property listing to see it drop off as closed in two weeks. Magically, the so called "cash offer with a two week close" disappeared the very next morning. She claims the other buyer said the bedrooms were too small.
This agent uses unethical business practices. I would stay away from her. She should be reported to the State of California Real Estate Licensing Board. I cannot believe she gets away with that type of unethical behavior.
I am still looking for a house, and won't make an offer on any property she represents."
Another Yelp posting about Windermere Coachella Valley, from Florian V., simply states, "Awful service served with an attitude."
Windermere Real Estate/East (aka Windermere Bellevue West), and its agent Maria Danieli, Sued for Breach of Fiduciary Duties and Negligent Misrepresentation in multi-parcel, water access case.
CASE UPDATE: Order Dismissing Windermere Defendants
(Left) Windermere Real Estate East's agent Maria Danieli.
A COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES AND TO QUIET TITLE was e-filed in King County Superior Court on June 1, 2010, in case number 10-2-19549-1, by REDMOND-FALL CITY LLC, a Washington limited liability company; and ELAINE COLES, a single individual, Plaintiffs; against MARIA DANIELI, INC., a Washington corporation; MARIA DANIELI, individually, and the marital community composed of MARIA DANIELI and JEFF KRUEGER; WINDERMERE REAL ESTATE/EAST, Inc., aka WINDERMERE BELLEVUE WEST, a Washington corporation; MICHAEL S. and JILL M. PHILPOTT, husband and wife, and the marital community composed thereof; and ROBERT J. and SHARMA L. BOSTWICK, husband and wife, and the marital community composed thereof, Defendants.
Under “I. PARTIES” the Complaint states in part:
1.3 Maria Danieli, Inc., (“MDI”) was at all times relevant to this action a Washington corporation engaged in providing real estate brokerage services and with its principal place of business in King County, Washington.
1.4 Defendant Maria Danieli was at all times relevant to this action a licensed real estate salesperson in the State of Washington working for and/or under the auspices of MDI and Windermere Real Estate/East, Inc. Ms. Danieli is married to Jeff Krueger and resides in King County, Washington. All of Ms. Danieli’s acts or omissions alleged herein were undertaken on behalf of herself individually, her marital community, MDI, and Windermere Real estate/East, Inc.
1.5 Windermere Real Estate/East, Inc., aka Windermere Bellevue West (“Windermere”), was at all time relevant to this action a Washington corporation engaged in providing real estate brokerage services and with its principal place of business at 11100 Main Street, Suite 200, Bellevue, King County, Washington, 98004.
1.6 Ms. Danieli, MDI and Windermere are collectively referred to herein as “the Windermere Defendants.”
Under “III. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS” the Complaint in part continues:
3.3 When RFC owned the entire Property, a water line originating at SE 40th Street ran north across Parcel 4 onto Parcel 3 and then angled onto Parcel 2 to supply water to Parcel 2.
3.4 After Ms. Coles met Ms. Danieli, Ms. Danieli portrayed herself as an experienced expert in acreage parcels, country estates, equestrian facilities and other luxury properties. Ms. Danieli claimed to have experience and expertise in subdividing and parceling off larger properties like RFC’s and in selling off the resulting parcels. At the suggestion and urging of Ms. Danieli, Ms. Coles and RFC agreed to sell of the westmost parcel of the property (“Parcel 1”) to the Cowens on or about August 31, 2006. Ms. Danieli served a dual-agency role in that transaction, acting a both seller’s agent and buyer’s agent.
3.5 After the Cowen sale, Ms. Danieli encouraged Ms. Coles and RFC to sell off more of the Property. Ms. Dabieli told Ms. Coles that $850,000 was good price for Parcel 3 and that $350,000 was a good price for Parcel 4. Ms. Danieli brought Ms. Coles an offer from the Philpotts for those two parcels at those prices. When Ms. Coles expressed reservations, Ms. Danieli assured Ms. Coles that the proposed Purchase and Sale Agreements were only place-holders to allow negotiations to continue, that there were plenty of contingencies and that she (Ms. Coles) could get out of the deals if she wanted to.
3.6 In Light of and in reliance on Ms. Danieli’s assurances and other representations, Ms. Coles executed Purchase and Sale Agreements with the Phillpotts for Parcels 3 and 4 for $850,000 and $350,000, respectively, on or about June 5, 2007. UNBEKNOWNST TO RFC AND MS. COLES, MS. DANIELI HAD ATTACHED AN INCORRECT LEGAL DESCRIPTION TO THE PURCHASE AND SALE AGREEMENT FOR PARCEL 3, THE PROPOSED PURCHASE PRICES WERE TOO LOW AND RFC AND MS. COLES WERE NOT ABLE TO GET OUT OF THE DEALS. (Editor’s emphasis added) The Philpotts closed their purchase of Parcel 4 on or about August 28, 2007.
3.7 By an Addendum/Amendment to Purchase and Sale Agreement, dated September 21 and 25, 2007, the Philpott’s rights and obligations under the Purchase and Sale Agreement to purchase Parcel e for $850,000 were assigned to the Bostwicks.
3.8 Throughout these transactions, Ms. Danieli continued to act as dual agent to buyer and seller. Ms. Danieli knew and acknowledged that Ms. Coles and RFC intended to keep Parcel 2 and subdivide and develop it. Ms. Danieli also knew that access to water was necessary for development of Parcel 2 and that such access needed to be preserved. Nevertheless, in advising Plaintiffs and serving as seller’s agent, Ms. Danieli failed to ensure that a water easement was expressly reserved in the relevant documents and failed to advise Plaintiffs to obtain other counsel or expertise regarding water access.
3.12 On information and belief, the Phillpotts and Bostwicks subsequently reached an agreement pursuant to which the Philpotts moved the then-existing water line but continued to provide water to the Bostwicks on Parcel 3. The new water line does not provide water to Parcel 2.
The Complaint’s Causes of Action state in part:
IV. FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION —THE WINDERMERE DEFENDANTS’ BREACHES OF FIDUCIARY DUTY
4.2 As licensed real estate salespeople, agents and brokers, by state statute (RCW 18.86) and by common law, Ms. Danieli, MDI and Windermere owed fiduciary duties as seller’s agents to Plaintiffs. In her acts and omissions as dual agent in the sales of Parcel 3 and Parcel 4 to the Philpotts and the Bostwicks, respectively, Ms. Danieli, individually and as a representative of MDI and Windermere, fell beneath the standard of care for real estate licensees in the State of Washington and breached the Windermere Defendants’ fiduciary duties to Plaintiffs.
V. SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION—THE WINDERMERE DEFENDANTS’ NEGLIGENT MISREPRESENTATION
5.2 Through Ms. Danieli’s acts and omissions described above, on her own behalf and on behalf of MDI and Windermere, the Windermere Defendants are guilty of negligent misrepresentation towards Plaintiffs.
Readers are reminded that a civil complaint is an allegation only, and in no way establishes guilt or innocence of any party. For more reports on Windermere Bellevue, click here to visit its page.
Deliberately Concealing Toxic Rat Infestation, Then Lying About It, Too. Windermere Northeast's Deceitful George Rudiger and Joan Whittaker: The Worst of the Windermere Worst.
(Above left to right) Windermere Northeast Rathouse peddler George Rudiger, some of the evidentiary rats, and Windermere Northeast Broker-Owner Joan Whittaker photo unavailable. Rudiger is still generating commissions for Windermere Northeast and franchiser Windermere Services Company. If you call Windermere Northeast, they’ll tell you that Joan “…is retired.” As you see here, however, Joan is certainly not retired from litigation, or from being sued for her incredible dishonesty and incompetence. Read about another Joan Whittaker/Windermere Northeast case alleging forgery here.
G.M. Kruger sold his condo in Nevada to buy a small home in Seattle, where he’d lived in the 1980s. He eventually settled on a $205,000 Shoreline house listed by Windermere Realty Northeast. George Rudiger was the listing agent, and Joan Whittaker was the Broker/Owner of Northeast at that time. After being repeatedly sued and ruining many lives, Whittaker has withdrawn any mention of herself on the Windermere Northeast webpage.
At purchase, Kruger had 8+ credit, a pre-approved loan, and a $47,000 cash down payment. He also had zero debt, plus extra cash savings for starting a small ad agency and making minor improvements to the new home. His life was good. The Shoreline house was just right, but he’d noticed on his initial visit that it had an odd aroma. He mentioned it to his agent who responded that since the sellers had little kids and pets, the odor could probably be ascribed to those. The house was small but neat, and had recently been painted in “Martha Stewart colors.” The place had a huge, well landscaped back yard—a major selling point. Kruger’s agent also recommended an inspector, and the house passed with only a few cursory repairs. It was the first house he ever bought.
The day he got possession of his new home and spent significant time there prepping for some light remodeling of floors, paint, and kitchen cabinets, he had a mysterious anaphylactic allergic reaction. His throat and eyes swelled up, and he had to vacate the premises. He’d found rat droppings, a rat hole torn in a closet ceiling, a rodent bait station hidden in the kitchen pantry, and steel wool stuffed around a heating duct. When a kitchen cabinet was moved, out spilled a festering rats' nest of feces, urine-soaked rockwool insulation, old food wrappers, rubber shards off electrical wire, and multiple dead rat carcasses.
A pest expert was called who urged Kruger and his helper to open the adjoining bathroom and kitchen wall, because rats travel to warmth and moisture to nest in interior walls. When they opened the wall, they were overcome by freshly exposed rat waste fumes, and confronted with more dead rat bodies and insulation so saturated with rat urine that it was still damp. The pest expert warned that no more work could be performed on the premises without proper ventilation and the wearing respiration devices.
Other infestation sites yielded yet more toxic rodent nests and carcasses. Interior insulation, wallboard and studs were saturated with rat waste. Durable wire mesh screens meant to deter rodents were installed on the attic floor, more at the crawlspace entry door, and yet more between exterior foundation blocks and wood framing, suggesting the sellers of the home were clearly aware of their rat problem. Kruger’s buyer’s inspection noted none of the pest problems, but as he would find out later, home inspectors are “…not required to move anything.” Kruger couldn’t inhabit a house that made him sick and might very well harbor disease.
In checking his Form 17 Sellers Disclosure Statement, question 4(F) about “When and by whom” a whole house inspection was completed, the sellers answered “Yes, April of 1997,” but they did not answer the question about WHO did the inspection. On question 4(G) “…have there been any problems with pest control, infestations or vermin?” the sellers checked “No.” After consultation, he reluctantly hired West Seattle attorney Jeffrey C. Mirsepasy, who advised him to get expert opinions and a videotaped inspection of the property.
Mirsepasy wrote to George Rudiger of Windermere Northeast, and John Jacobi at franchiser Windermere Services Company that, “We believe the plain existence of the following conditions were known by Windermere but not disclosed to potential purchasers, including Mr. Kruger: • Substantial metal screening meant to deter rodents …, " etc. Windermere Services Company, author of the company’s fraudulent marketing commitment to high ethics and integrity, was totally silent and did not reply.
Rudiger and Whittaker Lie
Windermere Northeast Broker/Owner Joan Whittaker responded in a letter that…“Mr. Rudiger categorically denies he had any knowledge whatsoever of the alleged conditions. Indeed, if he had such knowledge, he would have seen to it that these conditions would have been disclosed by the seller, in the sellers’ “Real Property Disclosure Statement” (Form 17).” And later that, “…there was no knowledge of any problems by Mr. Rudiger.” At Mirsepasy’s direction, Kruger pushed ahead on filing complaints against the sellers and home inspector.
Meanwhile, a certified American Society Home Inspector (ASHI) expert wrote a report saying the house was “...not fit for habitation.” An environmental air expert’s affidavit said, “As I told Mr. Kruger, there was nothing I could do for him. The house had odors from the rodent urine soaked into the subfloors in the kitchen and bathroom that my ozone treatment would not take out.” An estimate was more than $100,000 to clean and fix the home by removing and replacing “…all effected insulation, wood members and fibrous finish materials.” Wiring was chewed-out and “This condition causes a fire hazard.”
The long and expensive litigation process commenced. Kruger couldn’t live in the disgusting home, and couldn’t afford to fix it. His entire life was spontaneously re-arranged and put on hold. He had to store his worldly goods and rent an apartment—in addition to mortgage payments, legal fees and living expenses. His savings were quickly exhausted, and he ended up living in a friend’s dining room. Tragically, after 9 months vacant—and without ever living in it a single day—he was forced to sell the home at a $47,000 loss, just to get out from under the mortgage.
Shortly thereafter, through discovery, the sellers revealed inspection and transaction documents from THEIR 1997 purchase of the house : THEY BOUGHT THE HOME FROM GEORGE RUDIGER AT WINDERMERE NORTHEAST, and Rudiger himself had already referenced an inspection report and written in his own hand about “durable wire mesh” to limit rats, in an addendum. Rudiger was a 30-year family friend of the seller.
For months, while his entire life and everything he’d ever worked for was literally being destroyed, while he’d innocently become ensnared in costly and devastating litigation, while he’d actually gone homeless, lost $47,000 and spent nearly another $40,000 for an attorney, George Rudiger and Joan Whittaker and Windermere were lying. And this from a giant real estate organization who promotes itself as a caring part of the community, a socially responsible business citizen, and that it has a commitment to “The highest ethical standards. Uncompromising honesty and integrity."
WEST SEATTLE ATTORNEY JEFFREY C. "JEFF" MIRSEPASY (left) DEMANDS MORE MONEY ON THE EVE OF TRIAL, JUST PRIOR TO WINDERMERE'S POTENTIALLY DISPOSITIVE SUMMARY JUDGMENT MOTION, THEN REFUSES TO APPEAR FOR THE MOTION AT ALL, WITHDRAWS AND QUITS HIS CLIENT ENTIRELY—AFTER 18 MONTHS ON THE CASE AND TAKING $40,000! HIRE JEFF MIRSEPASY AND YOU'RE CUTTING YOU'RE OWN LEGAL THROAT...
Kruger sued Windermere Northeast, Rudiger and Whittaker, waiting more than 18 months for trial and paying lawyer Mirsepasy $40,000. But when he ran out of money, Mirsepasy demanded yet another $25,000 trial retainer to represent him at a dispositive summary judgment hearing, and Kruger failed to raise the money. Mirsepasy quit and withdrew from the case, leaving Kruger to appear at the summary judgment hearing without counsel of any kind, and Windermere was let out of the suit. The Complaint Kruger bought from Mirsepasy was so slapdash and poorly written that it did not contain any of Windermere's statutory violations, and it had never even been amended to include the subsequent fraudulent misrepresentation of Rudiger/Whittaker/Windermere lies and denial. Ironically, if Mirsepasy just had the loyalty—and decency, AFTER TAKING $40,000 —to appear and defend the one, single, twenty-minute motion which would’ve forced Windermere to trial, Kruger’s future and finances might have been saved. In the end, Mirsepasy deliberately ruined his own client's case out of greed and lack of humanity. But even MORE pertinent, if Windermere had honored its commitment to ethics and integrity, none of the whole nightmare would have occurred.
Windermere Abuses the Legal Process by Using It and the Courts to Coerce Silence and Quash Victims' Constitutionally Protected Speech Rights
When Kruger went public on the internet about his Windermere experience, franchiser Windermere Services, Whittaker and Rudiger sued him for trade libel and defamation to coerce his silence. Right after serving him their lawsuit, Windermere-Demco attorney Matthew Davis wrote Kruger an email that stated, “In the meantime, you need not hire an attorney… Unless and until I tell you otherwise, we will try to resolve this directly and outside the legal system.” Windermere-Davis knew Kruger was telling the truth about his Windermere experience and had not actually committed any libel or defamation. Windermere was using the legal system to falsely prosecute Kruger, but it wanted to prevent Kruger’s OWN USE of the legal system to defend himself. Ironically, Windermere was trying to coerce Kruger into being unrepresented by counsel, and also into not filing an answer to its specious libel and defamation complaint. But Kruger answered pro se, and spent another 2 years and thousands more to defend the bogus lawsuit. His answer included the counterclaim, abuse of process: The improper and tortious use of a legitimately issued court process to obtain a result that is either unlawful or beyond the process’s scope. Specifically, Windermere sought the result of getting Kruger to abandon his speech rights and be forever silence about his Windermere experience.
The Lies and Dirty Tricks of Windermere-Demco Attorney Matthew Davis
Davis never expected Kruger to answer Windermere’s phony lawsuit, muchless counterclaim for abuse of process, so he had a problem—going to trial in a lawsuit for libel and defamation where a defendant was telling the truth. Windermere couldn’t let its true behavior be seen by a jury, or let a court and jury see that Windermere told Kruger not to hire a lawyer when they sued him, so it had to get Kruger’s counterclaims—including the abuse of process claim—thrown out of court.
It’s important to note here that earlier in the litigation, Kruger submitted an answer to the lawsuit that the court clerk rejected because it had no physical address for him, and it also lacked the requisite $200 filing fee. The answer actually never got filed, and that version of the answer didn’t contain Kruger’s counterclaim for abuse of process. Because of the missing address, the court clerk returned Kruger’s insufficient answer to opponent Davis at Demco, who contacted him about it by email. Kruger wrote another amended answer that included the abuse of process counterclaim, provided an address and filing fee, and filed it with the court clerk. So Davis now had two versions of the Kruger answer, one that had been filed; and one that had NEVER been filed, and didn’t contain all of Kruger’s counterclaims.
Davis brought a motion for partial summary judgment to have Kruger’s counterclaims thrown out, but his motion lacked any reference to the counterclaim about Windermere’s abuse of process—Davis had attached the UNFILED VERSION of Kruger’s answer he'd received from the court to the motion, while swearing under penalty of perjury that it was a true and correct. Kruger complained to Davis in an email, and he replied to Kruger, “I will simply file a corrected version.” Kruger then said he felt “bamboozled” by Davis’ actions, and Davis responded that “The attachment will be supplemented, but nothing in the motion itself will change.” Kruger accepted Davis’ promise that he would file the correct version of his answer and attach it to the motion. Once again, Kruger couldn’t afford counsel to represent him at oral argument for Windermere’s partial summary judgment motion, so he appeared himself, and lost again. The court threw his counterclaims out. He never even considered the possibility that Davis might have been lying about filing the corrected version of his answer, which included the abuse of process counterclaim.
After the hearing, Kruger was never able to find Davis’ corrected supplement to Windermere’s motion in the Superior Court Case Summary. He again wrote to Davis, requesting “Please provide me the evidence that Windermere’s Motion proceeded to a decision in its favor with a corrected version of my proper Answer filed with the court by you in advance of the hearing.” After a long, pregnant pause, Davis’ smarmy reply was “You filed it, so I did not need to.” Demco attorney Matthew Davis lied about attaching and filing the correct answer to Windermere’s motion. By lying to the court and Kruger, he tricked them both into prevailing on his motion without even attaching the true document that contained the abuse of process counterclaim.
But Windermere still had a big problem, even though Kruger had no counterclaims—they were still suing somebody for trade libel and defamation who was telling the truth, and they were heading straight for trial. In another brazen dirty trick, Davis sent an order to the court requesting a “non-jury trial,” despite his knowledge that Kruger had filed a jury demand and paid the jury fee. Kruger emailed Davis “Why does your order request a non-jury trial? I paid the jury fee.” Davis replied “Right. I forgot. You will see it as a scheme, but it was an oversight.” At this point, Davis started pressing Kruger to sign Windermere’s Dark Clause silence agreement, quashing his constitutionally protected speech rights. Windermere’s whole purpose in suing Kruger for trade libel and defamation was to use the legal process unlawfully to coerce and intimidate him into silence about his Windermere experience. Kruger steadfastly refused to sign the document. Windermere’s bullying, sham trial drew nigh.
As part of the required process prior to trial, Kruger arranged for Alternative Dispute Resolution with Superior Court Judge Charles Mertel, and provided his court a settlement memorandum. Changing its tune before Judge Mertel, Windermere offered Kruger a paltry $10,000 to sign the dark clause, which he refused, asking for $15,000 instead. Davis told Kruger and Mertel he would have to get an okay on the higher sum. Two days later, Davis emailed Kruger that “I am instructed to inform you that all settlement offers are withdrawn.” And shortly thereafter, Windermere declared a “nonsuit” under CR 41(a)(1)(B), a civil rule of which most citizens are unaware, that allows a plaintiff party like Windermere, to voluntarily dismiss its own lawsuit because—according to Black’s Law Dictionary—“…the plaintiff has failed to make out a legal case or bring forth sufficient evidence.”
Windermere's Unseemly Grip on State Governments:
After Nearly 7 Years Producing Commission for Windermere Services and Windermere Spokane Valley Owner Cate Moye, Convicted Robbery Felon and Shotgun Shootout Windermere Agent, Nicholas Granly, Mysteriously Disappears from the Windermere Real Estate/Valley Roster—Ironically—just as Owner Moye is Nominated for Vice Chair of Washington’s Real Estate Commission, and "All [other] commissioners voted for Cate Moye." —DOL Acting Administrator Jerry McDonald
UPDATE: CONVICTED FELON NICK GRANLY AGAIN LISTED AT WINDERMERE SPOKANE VALLEY, PRODUCING PROFIT FOR WASHINGTON REAL ESTATE COMMISSION MEMBER AND WINDERMERE SPOKANE VALLEY OWNER CATE MOYE, AND FRANCHISER WINDERMERE SERVICES COMPANY
(Above from left to right) Cate Moye, Owner Windermere Real Estate/Valley, Spokane; Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire; Washington State Department Of Licensing's Director Liz Luce; and Windermere Real Estate/Valley, Spokane's Agent Nicholas Granly—back again at Moye's Windermere Spokane Valley operation.
In November of 2006, Governor Chris Gregoire’s press release states Ms. Moye “…is a member of the Spokane Association of Realtors professional standards committee…” Does Ms. Moye’s application of Realtors’ professional standards embrace the continued profit on convicted felons, without putting her active Windermere listing clients—and others—on notice that an agent of such dubious history like Nick Granly will have absolute, unsupervised and unregulated access to lock boxes and Windermere client homes? In those prior 7 years, did Ms. Moye ever advise ANY of her unsuspecting clients that Mr. Granly might be showing their homes; or grant them the opportunity to deny Windermere agent Granly access to their homes?
The Washington State Real Estate Commission’s Mission Statement: “To uphold, protect, and promote the public interest, which embraces both the interests of regulated licensees and entities and the interests of consumers, by the fair and impartial development and administration of the licensing laws and regulations,” is surely in conflict with commission member Moye-Windermere's usual approach to protecting the public interest—that of putting a convicted robber in your living room while you're not at home, without telling or asking you.
At this writing, current members of Washington State’s Real Estate Commission are:
• Ralph Osgood, Assistant Director Department of Licensing
• Kyoko Matsumoto Wright of Coldwell Banker Bain
• Jeff Thompson, Windermere Tri-Cities, Richland
• Cate Moye, Windermere Valley, Spokane
• George Pilant, RE/MAX
• Dan Murphy, Windermere Fauntleroy; Windermere Founder John W. Jacobi, Governing Person, Fauntleroy
With Cate Moye, Windermere Valley, Spokane, a total of three (3) Windermere members stack the commission, including Dan Murphy of Windermere Fauntleroy, where Windermere founder John W. Jacobi is listed as a Governing Person; and Jeff Thompson, Windermere Tri-Cities, Richland. Ralph Osgood, DOL Assistant Director, is also a commission member. Why is Washington's appointed real estate commission comprised of THREE Windermere personnel— ONE from Coldwell Banker, ONE from RE/MAX, and ZERO commission members from any of the other real estate companies operating in Washington state?
The Washington DOL website currently states:
"Governor Gregoire appoints a new real estate commissioner
We would like to welcome our newest real estate commissioner, Jess Salazar. Governor Gregoire appointed Federal Way real estate managing broker Mr. Salazar to serve on the Washington Real Estate Commission effective October 14, 2010. His term expires August 14, 2016.
Jess Salazar has been in real estate for 25 years with Benchmark Realty, LLC. He has 20 years of training experience in the classroom. Jess received his Trainer Specialist Certificate from the University of Washington.
Jess also worked 10 years at the Sea-Tac International Airport as an Aeronautical Training Specialist. He worked with the team that developed the security program which eventually became a standard throughout all national airports after 9/11."
But there is no mention of Mr. Salazar in the current commissioner lineup on the DOL website. Regardless of the addition of any new commission members, Windermere still holds three appointments, while no other Washington real estate company has more than one, and most companies are not represented at all.
“Integrity” is the most overused word in our global marketing culture. “Honesty” is perhaps the second most overused word in our global marketing culture. Many large companies are able to hide and obfuscate the reality of their own poor ethical performance and social responsibility simply by flooding the marketplace with paid promotion devices, like snappy websites, glossy brochures, and targeted PR events which trumpet words like “Service” and “Dedication” and “Honesty” and “Integrity.” And Windermere Real Estate circulates its disingenuous sales promotion all everywhere. It doesn’t care that its message content is—by its own record—disingenuous. It cares only about getting a percentage of YOUR property transaction—and if something goes wrong, well… they’ll beat it down with their unprincipled lawyers; or wear you out by spending your entire estate on mendacious litigation. But the public is smart, and votes on unethical corporate performance with its feet and pocketbooks. The visitor traffic numbers at windermerewatch.com prove just how interested consumers are in learning about where they should—and should NOT —place their confidence in choosing real estate services..
Windermere Real Estate absolutely saturates the marketplace with "We are committed to… The highest ethical standards, Uncompromising honesty and integrity.” Windermere also ballyhoos “The best from and for Windermere people” and “The improvement of life in the neighborhoods we serve.” Yet, if you're a client of owner Cate Moye’s Windermere Real Estate/Valley, Inc., of Spokane Valley, Washington, you might just be connected to Windermere Spokane Valley’s Nicholas Granly, a Windermere agent with convictions for robbery, burglary and theft.
On January 28, 2004, Spokane’s Spokesman-Review reported that “A former police officer attempting to sell her Spokane Valley house returned a few days ago to a big surprise… While she was away, her home was shown to prospective buyers by a real estate agent with convictions for robbery, burglary and theft… From the business card Realtor Nicholas A. Granly left behind, the ex-cop remembered he was involved in a shotgun standoff with Spokane sheriff’s deputies five years ago… How can a guy like this be in my home? asked the homeowner and now business owner, who asked not to be identified. I’m outraged, and I’m mad.” Despite the local controversy, and obvious consumer trepidation at having such unsupervised visits to listed homes and their valuable, often irreplaceable contents, convicted felon Granly continues to generate commissions for Windermere Valley owner Cate Moye, and franchiser Windermere Services Company.
Incredibly, Windermere Real Estate/Valley Inc.’s Owner Cate Moye was appointed to Washington State’s Real Estate Commission by Governor Chris Gregoire in November of 2006, nearly 3 years after the Spokesman-Review’s Granly article; and a period in which Windermere owner Moye continued her profit on agent Granly. Internet archives show Granly's Windermere roster listing from 2003 through 2008. Before, during, and after his exposure as a convicted theft and burglary felon. Windermere is adept at infecting government bureaucrats with “The Windermere Way”, and getting ethically questionable access to what’s going on in government agencies, purport to regulate the real estate industry and Windermere itself. But with 3 votes on the Washington State Real Estate Commission, one might think that Windermere Real Estate has undue influence over Washington state policy. Why on earth is a real estate commission not comprised of a single individual from each real estate company operating in Washington state? That commission configuration seems far more fair, indeed.
BRANDING BOMBSHELL: Windermere Exclusive Properties Announces Change to Real Living LIFESTYLES. 8-OFFICE POWERHOUSE DROPS THE WINDERMERE BRAND. STORY HERE
21 Former Windermere California Offices Drop the Windermere Brand
(1) Former Windermere Real Estate Bay Area, Berkeley, CA, office has become a Keller Williams Realty office.
(2, 3, 4 and 5) Former Windermere Real Estate Welcome Home, with locations in Castro Valley, Livermore, Pleasanton, and San Ramon, CA, have all become Prudential Real Estate Affiliates.
(6) Former proprietor of Windermere Silicon Valley Properties, Mountain View, CA, has moved to The Sereno Group.
(7) Windermere North State Properties, Redding, CA, has gone out of business.
(8 and 9) Former Windermere Dunnigan Realtors of Sacramento, CA, with locations in American River and Land Park has become Dunnigan Realtors.
(10 and 11) Former Windermere Pacific Coast Properties, CA, with locations in La Mesa and San Diego have joined the Sotheby’s International Realty Network.
(12) Former Windermere Property Professionals of Tracy, CA, have become RE/MAX Property Professionals.
(13) Former Windermere Placer County Properties of Auburn, CA, has become Gold Country Realty.
(14 and 15) The former Carlsbad Village Windermere Exclusive Properties has become Real Living Lifestyles Carlsbad Village; and the former Carlsbad Village Faire Windermere Exclusive Properties has become Real Living Lifestyles Carlsbad Faire.
(16) Former Windermere Exclusive Properties Escondido has become Real Living Lifestyles Real Estate, Escondido.
(17) Former Windermere Exclusive Properties La Costa / Encinitas has become Real Living Lifestyles La Costa / Encinitas Real Estate.
(18) Former Windermere Exclusive Properties Rancho Bernardo has become Real Living Lifestyles Rancho Bernardo Real Estate.
(19) The former Windermere Exclusive Properties Rancho Santa Fe has become Real Living Lifestyles Rancho Santa Fe / Fairbanks Ranch Real Estate.
(20) Former Windermere Exclusive Properties San Diego — Carmel Valley / La Jolla has become Real Living Lifestyles Carmel Valley Real Estate.
(21) The former Windermere Exclusive Properties Solana Beach has become Real Living Lifestyles Solana Beach Real Estate.
4 Realty Partners Offices in Oregon and 1 in Washington Drop the Windermere Brand:
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Adds Former Windermere Realty Partners to its Franchise Network
From the online report of Realogy Franchise Group Press Releases:
"PARSIPPANY, N.J. 12-14-2010 — Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC today announced that Clackamas-based Realty Partners, Inc., has joined its franchise network, adding a brand presence in the state of Oregon. The brokerage will now operate as Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Realty Partners, serving the Portland metropolitan area and surrounding communities, including Canby, Molalla and Vancouver, Washington. The company's co-owners, John Tate and Eric Post, bring a partnership-oriented culture and 100 sales associates across five offices to the Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate network.
"Eric and John founded their business on perhaps one of the best mission statements I have ever read," recalls Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC. "It simply says; Serve our clients with distinction, grow our businesses with passion and live our lives with balance." "When you begin with that foundation, you are well on your way to epitomizing the 'next generation broker' who leverages the best social and digital media tools to have a dialogue with employees and clients alike."
"By affiliating with Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate, we're taking the next logical step in communicating to our clients that we are committed to being a complete lifestyle service provider," said Tate. "Our agents and clients are more informed and tech-savvy than ever before. The incredible tools and support provided by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate will help us to better anticipate the agents' needs and to continue raising the bar for service in our industry."
"This is much more than a name change," said Post. "It's a declaration of our commitment to customer service. This affiliation reinforces our dedication to delivering what consumers need right now – a trusted, loyal advisor who has the ability to change with the market and technology tides. "From a corporate standpoint, our goal to create a supportive, successful, collaborative and focused organization can be fully realized with our partnership with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate."
Established in 2005 Realty Partners' past achievements include being named one of Oregon's "100 Best Companies to Work For" by Oregon Business magazine with high scores for benefits, attraction and retention; work environment; charity/community work; collaboration, trust and openness; rewards and, incentives; and career development.
Realty Partners takes its corporate responsibility very seriously and has been commended for its citizenship efforts and active involvement with numerous community and charitable organizations, including: Parrott Creek Child and Family Services, Habitat for Humanity, Oregon Food Bank, North Clackamas School District, The Canby Center, and the Molalla Buckeroo Association.
For more information on the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Realty Partners, please visit BHGRealtyPartners.com."
Former Windermere Pacific Coast Properties of San Diego, California, Joins Sotheby's International Realty Network
From the online report of Realogy Franchise Group Press Releases:
"PARSIPPANY, N.J., 11-22-2010 — Sotheby's International Realty Affiliates LLC announced that Pacific Sotheby's International Realty in San Diego is the newest member of its luxury real estate network. The firm, owned by Brian Arrington, serves San Diego County.
“San Diego is an international community, both economically and from a lifestyle point of view,” said Philip White, president and chief operating officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. “Brian Arrington and his team of professionals truly understand this market, which is a critical one for the Sotheby’s International Realty brand, and we are proud to have them represent us here.”
Pacific Sotheby's International Realty has 160 agents located in four offices throughout San Diego.
“We strive to provide our clients with the highest level of customer service and feel our core values truly match that of the Sotheby’s International Realty brand,” said Arrington. “We understand that buying and selling a home is a major decision for our clients and that each person comes from a unique background with varying experiences and expectations. Our agents are extremely dynamic in their approach, and we look forward to the global reach this renowned brand offers us.”
The Sotheby’s International Realty® network currently has more than 11,000 sales associates located in approximately 500 offices in 42 countries and territories worldwide. Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty listings will be marketed on the sothebysrealty.com global website. In addition to the referral opportunities and widened exposure generated from this source, the firm’s brokers and clients will benefit from an association with the Sotheby’s auction house and worldwide Sotheby’s International Realty marketing programs."
WYOMING, IDAHO, ARIZONA AND NEVADA WINDERMERE OFFICES QUIT THE BRAND
FORMER WYOMING WINDERMERE OFFICES SWITCH TO JACKSON HOLE REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATES
It's happening a lot lately.
Ethical realty franchise operators are dropping the Windermere logo and embracing other brands, like the former Jackson and Teton Valley Windermere offices in Wyoming and Driggs, Idaho, that have switched to Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates. Windermere now has no presence at all in Wyoming, and has lost yet more market share in Idaho when Windermere Garden Valley dropped the brand and joined up with John L. Scott.
RealEstateRama reports that, "Julie Bryan and 24 of the agents formerly of Windermere will join Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates by November 1, 2010. Julie Bryan’s reputation for hard work, client service and community involvement is unsurpassed. The opportunity to grow our presence in Teton Valley made perfect sense. We are optimistic about the future of real estate in the Idaho market and view this expansion as a positive investment," said Bomber Bryan, another principal of JHRE Associates," and "The former Windermere location at 65 South Main Street in Driggs, Idaho will be the new Idaho office for Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates and marks the company’s seventh office location throughout western Wyoming and Eastern Idaho."
ARIZONA OFFICES FLEE THE FLAGGING WINDERMERE BRAND, TOO
In January of 2010, WindermereWatch was concentrating heavily on informing Arizona residents and Windermere listers about Windermere Real Estate's predatory business conduct. Just the previous December, there were numerous Windermere offices in Arizona—we think more than 21—across the state. But in what seemingly was an instant, there were only two Windermere offices remaining, both in Prescott, Arizona.
Perhaps you're at this website because you've received a postcard from WindermereWatch. A central theme in the WindermereWatch message is that—despite false Windermere franchise claims of the opposite—a portion of commission from every Windermere transaction at every Windermere office in every state where Windermere operates goes to fund Windermere’s legal war machine and aggressive litigation against damaged Windermere customers. But once again, decent and responsible Windermere brokers and agents got the message, and acted quickly to protect their customer pool. By January 15 of 2010, WindermereWatch discovered that 19 of the 21 Windermere Arizona offices had disappeared from Windermere.com website. Fair-minded Windermere brokers and agents had demonstrated their esteem for honest and ethical business practice by dropping the Windermere brand. Former Windermere agents and brokers went to Long Realty so fast that their email lineup got switched right in the middle of Windermere webpage boilerplate.
Jerry and Joy Pickles, two previous Arizona Windermere folks now affiliated with Long Realty, were so quick to change the Windermere brand that the banner on their current Long Realty enterprise inadvertently displayed “Windermere” in the copy. Windermere Phoenix West Valley altered individual page links on their site to reflect the Long Realty domain, but left a “Windermere” banner on the webpage.
The prime component in any relationship with a real estate company is trust, and there are so many more-ethical outfits to choose from than Windermere Real Estate. When a real estate company makes a steady practice of mistreating and outright victimizing its customers, those customers go away. Decent, responsible and wise franchise owners, brokers and agents have no alternative but to follow them, and provide a brand which CAN be trusted. Windermere Real Estate is not worthy of your trust.
IN A GROWING NATIONAL TREND, DECENT AND RESPONSIBLE REAL ESTATE FRANCHISE OWNERS, BROKERS AND AGENTS ARE DROPPING THE WINDERMERE BRAND...
Residential real estate listings are conspicuously public. Most, if not all, residential listings are put on the internet by actual street address, town, city and zip code. This industry standard practice has made it extremely easy to directly inform Windermere listing clients through direct mail and WindermereWatch.com about the true nature of the company to which they’ve entrusted their most valuable asset, their home.
WindermereWatch.com and myriad Windermere victims are providing unsuspecting consumers with the truth about public predator Windermere Real Estate, and have not only sponsored their informational websites, but have also delivered an effective direct mail postcard campaign to Windermere home listers throughout the western states in which Windermere operates. After receiving a WindermereWatch postcard and visiting the WindermereWatch website, many Windermere listers decide to cancel or not renew their Windermere listing. Former Windermere home listers are grateful to know the risks of dealing with Windermere Real Estate. The upshot seems to be that decent and responsible real estate franchise owners, brokers and agents—who depend on repeat traffic, goodwill of brand, and honest franchiser support—drop the Windermere brand altogether.
Like the former Las Vegas Windermere brokerage, Windermere Summerlin, “…one of Las Vegas’ top-selling real estate offices…” which quit the Windermere brand in favor of Prudential. Windermere Summerlin had grown from 20 agents to more than 100 in the previous 5 years. Windermere Summerlin owners, Heidi and Peter Kasama, said they were taking their big Las Vegas operation to a more consumer-friendly enterprise:
“We found that Prudential offered more value to our agents and clients than any other franchise...” Kasama continued, “I would be remiss if I didn’t look for the best opportunities to grow my services, tools and marketing capabilities to survive and thrive in this new economy.” Read the official press release here. The “spin” that Windermere Summerlin was actually “merging” with Windermere was just a lot of softball, let-down hooey. When you visit their website, it’s Prudential all the way.
CALIFORNIA FRANCHISE INVESTMENT LAW: CASE HISTORY
In DOLLAR SYSTEMS, INC. v. AVCAR LEASING SYSTEMS, the Court RESCINDED THE FRANCHISE AGREEMENT, awarded restitution and damages, dismissed DSI’s breach of contract action, and awarded attorneys’ fees to franchisee Avcar, in part because “At the end of the meeting of June 15, 1984, DSI gave Schroff a document entitled "FTC DISCLOSURE STATEMENT," dated July 30, 1982. The document DID NOT DISCLOSE that Caruso and Francis were prohibited from offering or selling franchises in California because of their previous failure to comply with the registration requirements. THE DOCUMENT ALSO FAILED TO DISCLOSE THE EXISTENCE OF FIVE CIVIL ACTIONS INVOLVING DSI AND TWO 1982 WISCONSIN CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS FOR UNLAWFUL FRANCHISE SALES ACTIVITY, one for DSI, and one for Dollar Rent A Car- Wisconsin, Inc., a wholly owned DRACSI subsidiary. Download the case here.
California Corporations Code—Fraudulent Practices 31201: "It is unlawful for any person to offer or sell a franchise in this state by means of any written or oral communication not enumerated in Section 31200 which includes an untrue statement of a material fact or OMITS TO STATE A MATERIAL FACT necessary in order to make the statements made, in the light of the circumstances under which they were made, not misleading.
Windermere’s legal strategy of costly, interminable, vexatious litigation drives a dispute over a $16,800 agent commission to a judgment of $186,195.41—in favor of the agent. And Windermere—of course—is appealing...
...while also trying to enforce the cult-like “Windermere Way:"
“Shortly before the sale of the Brady Property closed, and without Mr. Rodriguez knowledge or consent, Windermere Wall Street altered the Commission Disbursement Form to disburse 100% of the listing agents’ commission to Ms. Thompson…
…Windermere’s arbitration provision, however, requires Mr. Rodriguez to submit his claims to a partisan panel of “Windermere owners, brokers, managers, and sales associates” as arbitrators…
…Because Windermere’s arbitration provision requires submission of disputes to a partisan panel the provision cannot provide an impartial decision maker. Provisions requiring arbitration before a party to the action are “repugnant to a proper sense of justice” and are not enforceable”
MYSTERIOUSLY TERMINATED WINDERMERE AGENT CLAIMS WILLFUL WITHHOLDING OF WAGES UNDER STATE LAW; ALSO VIOLATION OF THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, BREACH OF CONTRACT, UNJUST ENRICHMENT, BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY, FRAUD AND MISREPRESENTATION
From the Complaint of Case No. 06-2-35308-1SEA, stated in part under:
7. Mr. Rodriguez worked at Windermere Wall Street as a “sales associate” until April 2005. While at Windermere Wall Street, Mr. Rodriguez had a 50/50 equal partnership with Ms. Thompson ) also a “sales associate” at Windermere Wall Street) where they sold properties jointly and shared the agents’ portion of the commission fee on an equal basis.
8. During the partnership, Mr. Rodriguez and Ms. Thompson jointly listed a property owned by Michael (and Doreen?) Brady (“Brady Property”). The Purchase and Sale Agreement for the for the Brady Property lists Mr. Rodriguez and Ms. Thompson jointly as the “Listing Broker” The Commission Disbursement Form states that Mr. Rodriguez and Ms. Thompson were each to receive 50% each of the listing agents’ commission of $16,800 each.
9. Mr. Rodriguez’s association with Windermere Wall Street was terminated, abruptly and without cause, before the Brady Property sale was finalized. Although Windermere Wall Street stated that Mr. Rodriguez’ license would be transferred to an office in which he could list and sell property, Mr. Rodriguez license was transferred to a “referral office” where Mr. Rodriguez was unable to list or sell property.
10. Before leaving Windermere Wall Street, Mr. Rodriguez and Windermere Wall Street management signed a salesperson Exit Form confirming the agreement that Mr. Rodriguez would receive $16,800 from the sale of the Brady Property up[on its finalization.
11. Nothwithstanding the agreement, upon the closing of the sale on the Brady Property Windermere Wall Street refused to pay Mr. Rodriguez his share of the agents’ commission fee.
12. Shortly before the sale of the Brady Property closed, and without Mr. Rodriguez knowledge or consent, Windermere Wall Street altered the Commission Disbursement Form to disburse 100% of the listing agents’ commission to Ms. Thompson.
13. Only after obtaining discovery in this case, Mr. Rodriguez learned that Ms. Thompson had been involved in a number of transactions during the period of their partnership, for which she received a commission. Ms. Thompson did not disclose these transactions to Mr. Rodriguez and she sought to hide from Mr. Rodriguez. Mr. Rodriguez was unaware of these transactions and he did not receive any portion of the commissions from them.
IV. WINDERMERE’S ARBITRATION CLAUSE IS UNENFORCEABLE
14. Windermere’s agreement with Mr. Rodriguez includes an arbitration provision. Windermere’s arbitration provision, however, requires Mr. Rodriguez to submit his claims to a partisan panel of “Windermere owners, brokers, managers, and sales associates” as arbitrators. Windermere attempts to mask the inherent bias of a Windermere-only arbitration panel by inserting provisions superficially providing participation in selection and requiring fairness and lack of bias.
15. Because Windermere’s arbitration provision requires submission of disputes to a partisan panel the provision cannot provide an impartial decision maker. Provisions requiring arbitration before a party to the action are “repugnant to a proper sense of justice” and are not enforceable. Contract provisions requiring arbitration before arbitrators designated through one party’s unrestricted choice would not provide an impartial decision maker and are unenforceable”
On March 11, 2010, the court entered a 2nd Amended Judgment for an amount of $186,191.45 in favor of Plaintiff Roberto Rodriguez and against Judgment Debtors Windermere Real Estate / Wall Street and Sara and John Doe Thompson, Jointly and Severally: Principal Amount: $12,338.92; Interest Owed on Principal: $9,097.00 (at 18% through March 5, 2010); Attorneys Fees & Costs: $164, 755.53
On April 6, 2010, Windermere Demco Attorney Matthew F. Davis filed a Notice of Appeal to Court of Appeals, Division One.
Notwithstanding Windermere's E&O insurance provider, maybe Windermere-Demco-Davis will push this $16,800 commission dispute all the way to $1,000,000.
"The trial court refused to compel arbitration because of inherent unfairness in Windermere's arbitration procedure."
WASHINGTON STATE APPEALS COURT SLAMS THE "WINDERMERE WAY"
"The arbitrators are expected to reflect the “Windermere Way." Excerpted from the Washington State Court of Appeals Opinion:
"To recoup the commission, Rodriguez's attorney sent a letter requesting binding arbitration before a single, independent, non-partisan arbitrator, to which Windermere Wall Street never responded. Rodriguez filed suit against Windermere Wall Street and Thompson in November 2006, in which he alleged willful withholding of wages, violations of the Consumer Protection Act, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment. Windermere Wall Street provided no responses to Rodriguez's requests for production or interrogatories. Instead, Windermere Wall Street brought a motion to compel arbitration based on the arbitration provision in Rodriguez's contract. The trial court refused to compel arbitration because of inherent unfairness in Windermere's arbitration procedure. “RCW 7.04A.110(2) requires that an arbitration be neutral as defined in the statute. Limiting the panel of arbitrators exclusively to those selected by Windermere Real Estate Service, Co., even if the local franchise office is excluded from the ‘list’, violates the language and spirit of the statute.” Windermere Wall Street appeals this ruling.
Rodriguez had received a written acknowledgment of a commission due from Windermere. After his employment was terminated, Windermere changed position and paid most of the acknowledged commission to an agent still in its employ. We do not decide whether this was proper or not; the merits are not before us. The question is whether the arbitration process prescribed by Windermere should be applied to these facts. Windermere provided the contract, wrote the arbitration procedures, and selects the arbitrators. The arbitrators must be solely from current employees within the Windermere franchisee family. The arbitrators are all brokers or agents of sister franchisees, which have a continuing, mutually beneficial relationship with the franchisor. The arbitrators are expected to reflect the “Windermere Way.” The “Windermere Way” may mean that it is in the interests of Windermere Wall Street to have the commission in dispute paid to a continuing employee rather than to someone whose employment it has terminated. We conclude the potential arbitrators have a known, existing and substantial relationship with the party-franchisee. On these facts, the process does not satisfy the neutrality requirements of the arbitration statute.
We affirm the trial court's denial of the motion to compel arbitration."
Read the entire Washington Appeals Court Opinion here.
Phoenix Real Estate Investor Pleads Guilty to $50 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme
PHOENIX—Brett Matheson, 46, pleaded guilty on Monday in federal court to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a $50 million mortgage fraud scheme based in Phoenix. Two others have also entered guilty pleas and are awaiting sentencing.
The case against Matheson and his co-conspirators is based on an investigation conducted by the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Matheson acknowledged in his guilty plea that as President and CEO of Maricopa Property Investment Solutions, Inc., he recruited straw buyers in real estate seminars. From about January 2005 through September 2006, he facilitated the submission of mortgage loan applications for these unqualified straw buyers containing false information regarding employment, income, assets and the intent to occupy homes as their primary residence. In some cases, the loan application packages contained altered pay stubs, false bank statements, and bogus verifications of employment and deposit. Matheson personally obtained financing for the purchase of two properties using altered pay stubs and bogus verifications of employment. At closing, a portion of the seller proceeds were kicked back to an entity controlled by Matheson and his co-conspirators. The arrangement between Matheson’s company and the “straw” buyers was concealed from the lenders. The kickbacks were often used on Matheson’s personal expenses or to make down payments to qualify additional “straw” buyers for financing on other properties. In total, 52 properties were involved in the scheme with nearly $50 million in fraudulent loans. The losses to lenders approached $20 million.
“This guilty plea reminds us of the destructive role mortgage fraudsters played in the financial crisis that has impacted every Arizonian and the entire country,” said U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke. “Schemes like this have destroyed property values, crippled lending institutions, and ruined entire neighborhoods in our community. It has resulted in the loss of tax revenues and jobs. We will continue to investigate and prosecute those who have profited from mortgage fraud.”
“Mortgage fraud threatens the financial health of our communities. IRS Criminal Investigation and our law enforcement partners are committed to following the money trail to ensure those who engage in illegal activities such as Matheson are brought to justice,” said Dawn Mertz, Special Agent in Charge, Phoenix Field Office, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division.
A conviction for a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud is punishable by a maximum fine of $1 million a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years, or both, and a term of supervised release of five years. In determining an actual sentence, Federal District Judge Neil V. Wake will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.
Matheson’s prosecution is part of an initiative called “Operation Stolen Dreams” in which dozens of defendants—including many real estate professionals—were indicted in the summer of 2010. To date, 27 of those indicted have been convicted through guilty pleas.
The investigation in this case was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations Division and the FBI. The prosecution is being handled by Kevin M. Rapp and Monica B. Klapper, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.
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