By Peter Ricci
The Chicago Association of Realtors (CAR) is suing Andrea Geller, a CAR member and agent for Coldwell Banker, for defamation for public statements she made in relation to Chicago Agent magazine’s story on the impeachment of former CAR President Bob Floss.
The lawsuit, which seeks damages in excess $50,000 from Geller, according to a Chicago Tribune story on the lawsuit, is believed to be the first such lawsuit in the association’s 129-year history.
CAR Suing Andrea Geller for “Knowingly False Public Statements”
According to a press release from CAR, the association’s lawsuit is intended to stop “an ongoing campaign of defamation” from Geller, one composed of “unsubstantiated, reckless and knowingly false public statements.”
Zeke Morris, the president of CAR, is quoted at length in the press release:
“It is with a heavy heart that the C.A.R. Board of Directors and I have authorized this action against one of our own members – but that member left us with no choice,” said Morris, who is also the operating principal and managing broker of Keller Williams Realty, CCG. “The ongoing false statements about fictitious financial issues are intolerable and inexcusable, particularly in light of the fact that the Association urged Ms. Geller over the course of several weeks to identify specific concerns so they could be investigated. Rather than act responsibly, she continued with the defamatory posts, through and including this past weekend. We were forced to take action to protect the Association’s well-earned respect and reputation.”
“With freedom of speech comes responsibility, and it is wrong to use the ease of the Internet to cast repeated, unsupported and false aspersions on our staff, volunteers and on our Association. The Board has great confidence in its CEO, its chief operations and financial officer, and the rest of its financial staff, along with its Finance Committee. The Association’s budgeting process is thorough, open, and comprehensive, with members involved in myriad committees to shape the offerings of the Association – from education to events, programs and beyond. The Association’s finances are annually audited by independent certified public accountants. We have been, and will continue to be, good and responsible stewards of our members’ dues.”
Since the original publication of Chicago Agent‘s story on August 20, Geller, in addition to dozens of other members of the Chicago real estate community, have commented, with many calling for greater transparency in CAR’s financials; Geller, who is also a member of CAR’s finance committee, was among the most active voices, calling for an independent forensic audit and questioning the financials of the association not only on Chicago Agent‘s story, but on Facebook as well.
Chicago Agent‘s original story on Floss’ impeachment can be read here.