Dec. 12, 2011
-- The St. Louis Association of REALTORS® (SLAR) and the Missouri Association of REALTORS® (MAR) announced today that their collective efforts have given Missouri associations a powerful weapon that can be used to protect association members’ interests. In St. Louis Association of REALTORS v City of Ferguson, the Missouri Supreme Court unanimously held that a Missouri association had standing to file suit on behalf of its members. ( http://www.courts.mo.gov/
50191 ). SLAR originally filed a lawsuit against the City of Ferguson in 2006 disputing a city ordinance related to rental properties. In January, 2010, the trial court ruled that SLAR did not have standing under Missouri law, as it did not own property in Ferguson, and dismissed the case. SLAR appealed, and in March, 2011, the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s decision 2-1. With funding assistance from MAR, along with a persuasive amicus curiae brief filed jointly by MAR, the Missouri School Board Association, and the Missouri Society of Association Executives, SLAR continued its appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court.
On October 25, 2011, the Missouri Supreme Court issued its decision in which it applied a three-part test in determining whether SLAR had associational standing. This test required SLAR to show that “(a) its members would otherwise have standing to sue in their own right; (b) the interests it seeks to protect are germane to the organization’
s purpose; and (c) neither the claim asserted nor the relief requested requires the participation of individual members in the lawsuit.” Holding in favor of SLAR, the Court reasoned that at least one SLAR member would have the right to challenge the subject ordinance, that the subject ordinance was germane to SLAR’s mission of protecting real property rights and that since the relief requested was invalidation of the ordinance, it did not require participation of an individual.
This ruling makes it clear that Missouri associations can be a plaintiff in industry-related cases where it is able to satisfy the three-part test. This can be critical when an association wants to prosecute litigation for the protection of member interests and it is neither possible nor practical to have an individual member or members act as plaintiff.
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Founded in 1936, the Missouri Association of REALTORS® is one of the largest trade associations in the state of Missouri with more than 19,000 members. For more information: http://www.missourirealtor.org
With more than 7,000 members in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area, the Saint Louis Association of REALTORS®, founded in 1887, is the fifth oldest REALTOR® association in the country and is a founding member of the National Association of REALTORS®. For more information: http://www.stlrealtors.com