CAR Member Andrea Geller to ‘Vigorously’ Fight Association’s Lawsuit

by Chicago Agent


Andrea Geller, a Chicago-area Realtor who is being sued by the Chicago Association of Realtors for defamation, will be fighting the lawsuit in court.

By Peter Ricci

Andrea Geller, the Coldwell Banker agent the Chicago Association of Realtors (CAR) has sued for defamation, is planning on “vigorously” fighting the lawsuit, according to an exclusive interview Chicago Agent conducted with Donald Battaglia, Geller’s legal counsel.

“Andrea is going to vigorously defend this,” Battaglia said. “They picked the wrong person to bully.”

CAR v. Andrea Geller

Battaglia told us that Geller was just served CAR’s lawsuit this past weekend, and he and she now have 30 days to formulate their response; therefore, at this point, he cannot comment on a specific legal strategy, though he was clear that Geller will be fighting the charges in court, and he did share a number of observations on the nature of the complaint, which can be read in full here:

  • Battaglia says this defamation suit is no different than most of the defamation suits he has seen, which come down to what he called “bullying tactics,” or, efforts by a large, powerful organization to silence an outspoken member. Typically, Battaglia said, the suits involve nothing more than “saber rattling,” and as such, the organization succeeds in intimidating the defendant, quelling his or her opposition, and then throwing out the suit after the member agrees to stop speaking out.
  • It’s clear, he continued, that CAR had such a strategy in mind when it filed the lawsuit: the $50,000 fee, he said, serves no specific purpose for the association; the complaint is general, sparse on detail and lacking in exhibits, which are documents that give the full context for the allegedly defaming statements (Battaglia said CAR’s complaint amounted to a “shotgun approach,” so lacking was it in specifics); and the entire effect of the complaint, he concluded, was to intimidate and scare Geller.
  • Ultimately, the burden of prove is on the association, Battaglia said, and for it to prove that Geller made knowingly false statements on both Facebook and Chicago Agent‘s stories on Bob Floss’ removal from the CAR presidency.
  • On the burden of proof, Battaglia made two additional points – first, the majority of Geller’s statements amount to statement of opinion, and from the perspective of an association member who wants to better the organization, at that; and two, that with Geller challenging the lawsuit, she and Battaglia will be able to ask the court to compel CAR to be more specific and articulate their positions in the complaint – which might prove difficult for the association. “They may have bitten off more than they can chew [with the complaint],” Battaglia said.

Chicago Agent reached out to Peter Friedman, CAR’s general legal counsel, for more information from the association on the lawsuit, but he declined to answer our questions; instead, Friedman referred us to the association’s complaint and the statement from CAR that accompanied the complaint’s filing, which we quoted at length in our first story on the lawsuit.

The Andrea Geller Legal Fund

Geller herself declined to comment on this story, deferring instead to Battaglia; she did tell us, though, that she has received donations for her legal fund from agents as near as Lincoln Park and as far away as Hawaii.

“Many agents and brokers have offered to officially establish [a legal fund],” Geller said. “I have received checks which I have not done anything with yet. The ongoing support of the real estate community, locally and nationally, has been overwhelming.”

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  • Bruce Theobald says:

    I will go on record and say that I find CAR’s decision to file a lawsuit against one of it’s own members absolutely disgusting. CAR may have it’s differences with Ms Geller but filing a lawsuit on these facts? You’ve got to be kidding. CAR’s Complaint has SLAPP suit written all over it.

    Ms Ginger Downs, you’re getting $300K+ for that job? Let me state publicly, I will do it for half that. I only called you once in the last 10 years. You never even returned my call, and I have never forgot.

    Mr Zeke Morris, you and I have never met. But for you to condone CAR’s filing of this lawsuit, let me state that you must not be one of “us”, meaning an agent who works the street. No agent who actually works the street would ever approve of CAR’s whinny, cry-baby actions.

    I will echo another poster’s comments who astutely observed how interesting it is that CAR has no money for a forensic audit through which CAR might exonerate itself, but has plently of money for lawyers to silence it’s critics.

    Ms Geller, you’ll be getting a check from me shortly. In the mean time, CAR dues are due soon and I am going to seriously investigate moving to another Board.

    Bruce Theobald
    Attorney At Law & Managing Broker
    Lakefront Realty Group, Inc.

  • withdraw the BS says:

    I as a member of CAR call on my fellow representative of CAR to immediatly withdraw this BS lawsuit. They represent us. They should listen to us. If every member was asked I have no doubt they would agree with me to authorize our board of directors to authorize their hired attorney to withdraw this BS lawsuit.

  • Lyn Sims says:

    It’s a shame that Andrea Geller has been targeted in this fashion. None of her statements were defamatory but questioning in nature with the operations of CAR. You can’t ask a question on a public forum without being sued?

    Ain’t this still America?

  • scarry says:

    the tail is wagging the dog

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