A Louisiana federal court on Monday paused a Federal Trade Commission investigation of the Louisiana Real Estate Appraisers Board for allegedly punishing companies that set its fees too low.
The FTC, in a 2017 complaint, said the state appraisers board was illegally determining a floor for appraiser prices. The allegation triggered some two years of litigation, including an in-house FTC trial that was slated to start in September.
The board at the time said the FTC was “just plain wrong,” and later defended that it should be relieved from the proceedings because all branches of Louisiana government accepted a supervisory role for the alleged anti-competitive practices cited by the FTC.
U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson granted the board’s motion on Monday to stay the enforcement action until the court completes a review of the merits of the FTC’s order last year, which found the board was not entitled to state-action immunity, shielding it from antitrust scrutiny.
Jackson agreed with the board that allowing the FTC’s trial to continue would cause harm to Louisiana by distracting state officials and curtailing the state’s abilities to make and enforce policies, and ruled that pausing the case would inflict “no substantial injury to the public or other parties.”
“Also, the court recognizes that an unnecessary trial would hamper state officials’ effort to conduct the normal daily responsibilities of their offices, to the detriment of the state,” the ruling reads. “The court further finds that the arguments presented by the board concerning the public interests in granting the stay are valid.”