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Former Move Execs Defend Actions In Switch to Zillow

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Errol Samuelson

A lot of courtroom drama in Seattle wrapped up this week. Two former realtor.com executives, Errol Samuelson and Curt Beardsley, have been on the stand in King County Superior Court to defend their handling of computer files when they left the listing site to join rival Zillow.com back in 2014.

The executives are defendants in a lawsuit by realtor.com operator Move, Inc., that charges them with misappropriating trade secrets and destroying evidence when they switched companies. NAR later joined the lawsuit. Under the charges, the executives are said to have taken proprietary information to Zillow and to have destroyed evidence of that.

On the stand, the two executive said they took no confidential information and that the files they destroyed were personal. “I didn’t want anyone or any employer to know this information,” Samuelson said at the hearing, a pre-trial session focused on the handling of evidence. “To me, it’s personal stuff—it’s my stuff—and it’s not Move’s or anyone else’s business.”

The pre-trial hearing wrapped up on April 26. Move and NAR contend Zillow should be held liable for the actions of the two executives and are asking Judge Sean O’Donnell to either issue a default judgment against Zillow or instruct the jury to infer that the evidence that was destroyed was incriminating. Zillow says the charges are unfounded and should be dismissed. A trial is set for June 6.

At Move, Inc., Samuelson was president of realtor.com and Beardsley was vice president of industry development. Graham Wood of REALTOR® Magazine attended the hearings and filed five reports. His coverage:

April 12: “Was Beardsley Eyeing a Coup Against Move?”

April 13: “What Did Samuelson Tell Zillow?”

April 14: “Samuelson: I Didn’t Want Move to Know My Business”

April 15: “Expert: Too Much Evidence Missing in Zillow Case”

April 26: “Sanctions for Zillow in Move Lawsuit?”

Background:
Feb. 17: “Move, NAR, Zillow Showdown Heats Up”

Robert Freedman

Robert Freedman is director of multimedia communications for the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. He can be reached at rfreedman@realtors.org.

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