1. Purpose of the Legal Action Program
The main purpose of the Legal Action Program is to provide financial assistance to support litigation of significance to the Association and its members. This program is administered by the Legal Action Committee.
It is the function of the Committee to evaluate requests for assistance and to determine whether the case is appropriate for support. In order to qualify for assistance it must be established that the case (1) involves issues of significance to a substantial portion of the membership, (2) is designed to promote or defend the rights of members, the public or others concerned with the protection of private property rights or (3) names the Ohio REALTORS, a Local Board, or one or more members where the issues are of substantial interest to the real estate industry as a whole.
2. Type of Support That Can Be Requested
The main assistance provided by this program is financial support, meaning assistance in paying the legal costs and expenses associated with bringing, defending or appealing an action. It does not include payment of any judgment, fines, damages, settlements or opposing counsel’s fees or costs.
A party may also request that the Association file an amicus curiae brief with the court in support of the member’s case. Because of the filing deadlines imposed by the courts, it is crucial for the request for this type of assistance to be made well in advance so that if granted, the Association’s counsel will have sufficient time to draft and file this brief.
The Legal Action Committee to award up to $10,000 in financial assistance. Any award over this amount must be approved by the Ohio REALTORS Executive Committee.
3. How to Request Support
To request assistance from the Legal Action Committee it is necessary to complete an application and forward it to the Association’s Vice President of Legal Affairs, who serves as the staff liaison to the Committee. Because the application asks for information regarding the legal pleadings and issues involved in the case, you may wish to have your attorney help you complete the form.
It is imperative that requests for assistance be made sufficiently in advance of the Committee’s meeting so that legal counsel to the Committee can review and evaluate the request, ask for any additional information and forward the request to Committee members in advance for their careful review of the case prior to their meeting.
Parties are also strongly urged to first seek assistance for their case from their Local Board of REALTORS and to also consider requesting assistance from NAR’s Legal Action Committee. Although support from the local and national level is not a prerequisite, the Legal Action Committee generally will not award support without at least the recommendation of the Local Board, except in extraordinary circumstances.
4. Consideration of the Request
Requests for assistance will be considered at the Legal Action Committee’s next regularly scheduled meeting. The Committee meets two times a year: the Spring Conference in April or May, and the Convention, held in mid-September. With the exception of the Convention, the meetings are held in Columbus. Although not done often, the Committee can, at its discretion, hold a teleconference call if a request is filed that requires a decision prior to the Committee’s next meeting. If you believe such a special meeting of the Committee is necessary, you must specifically indicate that on your request and explain the justification.
You will be notified prior to the meeting as to whether the Committee would like you to make a presentation at that meeting. If your appearance is requested, it is probably because the Committee feels it needs more information from you to understand the case, the importance of the issues involved, and the significance of those issues to the industry at large.
If you do appear before the Committee, your attorney may accompany you if you wish. You are not expected to provide an extensive or detailed discussion of the technical legal aspects of the case or proceedings but you should have a reasonable familiarity with the issues and their significance. During or after your presentation the members of the Committee, as permitted by the Chairman, may ask questions. When the Committee is satisfied it has sufficient information to make its decision, you will be excused and the Committee will make its determination as to your request.
5. Procedures Following the Meeting
The Committee’s decision will be reported to the Association’s Executive Committee. However, the Committee’s decision to award financial or other assistance is final. Unless the Committee decides otherwise, you will be notified in writing of its decision within one week of the meeting. Where financial support is awarded, it will be disbursed, subject to any special conditions, as soon as possible.
If you have any questions regarding the Legal Action Program, they may be addressed to the Peg Ritenour, Vice President of Legal Affairs at the Ohio REALTORS offices, 200 E. Town St., Columbus, Ohio 43215, phone (614) 228-6675, fax (614) 228-2601.