What is Real Estate Valuation Partners Hiding?
In the case of the FTC vs Louisiana Real Estate Board, Real Estate Valuation Partners (REVP) was issued a subpoena by Louisiana to provide some documents. They have filed a motion to quash the subpoena and not provide documents.
When you read through the 11 page document, and we highly recommend you do, it appears REVP is hiding crucial documents that may be incriminating to themselves and other appraisal management companies. There are 12 specific items being requested.
Take a look for yourself here. It is very telling!
b. Requests No. 4, 5, 6, and 11 ask for REVP’s internal and external documents and communications regarding customary and reasonable fees, Rule 31101, and the October 20, 2010 Federal Reserve Board Interim Final Rules regarding customary and reasonable fees. REVP’s communications and documents regarding the Board’s customary and reasonable fee rule, as well as the federal rules regarding customary and reasonable fees, are relevant to both the FTC’s allegations and LREAB’s defenses, including the defense that LREAB complied in good faith with a Federal regulatory regime. 2 Additionally, REVP’s communications with third parties regarding the impact of customary and reasonable fees are relevant to Complaint allegations that LREAB’s Rule 31101 impacted pricing and competition. See, e.g., Complaint ¶ 48 (“AMCs operating in Louisiana have increasingly used median fees reported in SLU Center surveys.”). Finally, REVP was the subject of an LREAB investigation which the FTC has alleged was part of an anticompetitive scheme. Id. LREAB is entitled to discovery regarding REVP’s response to that investigation.
c. Request No. 8 asks for documents and communications relating to activities to inform or influence the Louisiana legislature regarding customary and reasonable fees. The process of promulgating Rule 31101, the legislative process for passing the Louisiana AMC Act, and the industry understanding of customary and reasonable fees are relevant to, inter alia, the FTC’s allegations (see, e.g., Complaint ¶ 27-28 (discussing passage of the Louisiana AMC Law)) as well as LREAB’s defenses of good faith compliance and state action immunity. (Answer, Affirmative Defenses ¶ 4, 9).
d. Request Nos. 9 and 10 ask for documents sufficient to show AMC compensation from lenders and the cost of appraisal management services. These requests are unquestionably relevant. The Complaint alleges that the prices of appraisal services have increased following LREAB’s promulgation and implementation of Rule 31101. See Complaint ¶ 44. REVP, and other AMCs, are the only entities in possession of data that can support or refute this allegation. However, understanding that producing this data may be challenging for REVP, LREAB represented that it would be willing to accept data (in any form) sufficient to show the fees paid for residential real estate appraisal services in Louisiana from 2012 through the present. Counsel for REVP represented that she would discuss this compromise proposal with her client but never responded to LREAB’s offer to accept this clearly relevant information in a less burdensome format. See In re Gen. Motors Corp., No. 9077, 1977 FTC LEXIS 18 * 1 (Nov. 25, 1977) (“[A] Federal Trade Commission subpoena seeking relevant data will not be quashed on the grounds that a burden is imposed on a third party, especially where the party initiating the subpoena has expressed a willingness to mitigate whatever burden may exist by negotiation and compromise.”).
f. Additionally, REVP objects to Requests 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 because they call for information that is “confidential” and “proprietary.” Counsel for LREAB has assured counsel for REVP that any concerns about confidentiality are fully addressed by designating documents in accordance with the Court’s May 31, 2017 Protective Order in this matter. REVP has not provided any basis for why the Protective Order is insufficient to protect the confidentiality of its information.