Feb. 8, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Modern Spaces, the Long Island City based real estate company, has filed a lawsuit against a national firm for allegedly stealing confidential information by way of a former agent and engaging in unlawful “poaching” practices as a means to break into the western Queens market.
The real estate group, founded a decade ago by Eric Benaim, alleges in its complaint that Compass, a coast-to-coast competitor, lured former Modern Spaces employee Jessica Meis away from the company by promising her a signing bonus, stock options, and other items for leaving the brokerage.
The suit claims that Meis, who left Modern Spaces for Compass last month after working there since July 2017, conspired with her new company to steal proprietary information from her former employer to gain an unfair advantage in the market.
Modern Spaces, which is seeking unspecified damages, alleges that Meis emailed dozens of files from the company’s internal system to her personal account, including customer and listing data, in the days before she quit her job there. The suit claims that Meis acted under the directive of Compass, and says the competitor has long been engaging in organized efforts to “poach” agents and employees in other real estate firms.
The suit further claims that Compass provided Meis with “step-by-step” instructions on how to encourage property owners to end their sales agreements with Modern Spaces by having them enter separate agreements with Compass.
Modern Spaces also alleges that Compass went as far as to steal their marketing photographs, including photographs showing their listings, and posted the photos to their own website.
The LIC brokerage said Compass is intentionally targeting its company in an effort to “quickly break into the Queens real estate market”, and that some clients have already terminated their exclusive listings with Modern Spaces, causing damage to the company.
“Rather than attempt to engage in lawful competition, Compass has instead engaged and recruited several Modern Spaces agents with the intention of stealing…confidential information including listings, customer lists, and internal company forms,” reads part of the complaint filed on Tuesday.
Modern Spaces said they’re not the first company “to fall prey to the brazenly unethical actions of Compass.” Compass, for example, has seen lawsuits from the Corcoran Group and from Saunders & Associates, the latter which is still being deliberated on.
“As a company with deep ties to the Long Island City community we serve and support, we will not sit idly by and allow this malicious campaign to publicly undermine Modern Spaces, all in the name of gaining market share,” Modern Spaces said.
Compass denies Modern Spaces’s claims
“Compass has never been found liable by court of committing any of the allegations set forth in Modern Space’s complaint,” the company said in a statement.
Update 4:56 p.m. 2/8 : Statement from Compass added to the article