Oxford firm wins some rulings in fraud-based case

OXFORD – Officials at Oxford-based FNC Inc. software developers and marketers had fewer legal problems Friday, but they still face a federal lawsuit by out-of-state real estate companies.
Friday, U.S. District Judge W. Allen Pepper Jr. dismissed one count of the lawsuit and lifted a stay imposed while the various legal issues were being considered.
Realtor Harold H. Huggins Realty Inc. and several other firms sued FNC in 2007, claiming FNC through its AppraisalPort Internet listings service lied about accessing appraisal data and was building its own commercial database from it.
They also sought to make it a class-action lawsuit for other companies, which believed they’d also been harmed by FNC.
In his ruling, Pepper said the Realtors couldn’t prove they suffered a competitive injury or other issues to give them the power to sue. He dismissed their Count One alleging false advertising.
Although the complaint fails to give any specific facts about the Realtors’ use of AppraisalPort, the court said, it agrees to let the plaintiffs amend their complaint to remedy its deficiencies.
Citing the 5th Circuit’s “apparent hard-line stance” about class-action certification in fraud claims, the judge said it’s a little premature.
The lawsuit originally was filed in Maryland, where Huggins has offices. It was moved to Mississippi in January 2009.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or Patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal