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Commitments And Contingencies
9 Months Ended
Sep. 30, 2013
Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]  
Commitments And Contingencies
The Company is involved in claims, legal proceedings and governmental inquiries related to alleged contract disputes, business practices, intellectual property and other commercial, employment, regulatory and tax matters. Examples of such matters include but are not limited to allegations:
that the Company is vicariously liable for the acts of franchisees under theories of actual or apparent agency;
by former franchisees that franchise agreements were breached including improper terminations;
that residential real estate sales associates engaged by NRT—in certain states—are potentially employees instead of independent contractors, and therefore may bring claims against NRT for breach of contract, wrongful discharge and negligent supervision and obtain benefits, indemnification and expense reimbursement available to employees;
concerning claims for alleged RESPA or state real estate law violations including but not limited to claims challenging the validity of sales associates indemnification and administrative fees;
concerning claims generally against the company owned brokerage operations for negligence or breach of fiduciary duty in connection with the performance of real estate brokerage or other professional services; and
concerning claims generally against the title company contending that, as the escrow company, the company knew or should have known that a transaction was fraudulent or concerning other title defects or settlement errors.
Real Estate Business Litigation
Bararsani v. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Company. On November 15, 2012, plaintiff Ali Bararsani filed a putative class action complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court, California, against Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Company (“CBRBC”) alleging that CBRBC had misclassified current and former affiliated sales associates as independent contractors when they were actually employees. The complaint, as amended, further alleges that, because of the misclassification, CBRBC has violated several sections of the California Labor Code including Section 2802 for failing to reimburse plaintiff and the purported class for business related expenses and Section 226 for failing to keep proper records. The amended complaint also asserts a Section 17200 Unfair Business Practices claim for misclassifying the sales associates. The Plaintiff, on behalf of a purported class, seeks the benefit of the California labor laws for expenses, wages and other sums, plus asserted penalties, attorneys’ fees and interest.  The Company believes that CBRBC has properly classified the sales associates as independent contractors and that it has and continues to operate in a manner consistent with widespread industry practice for many decades.
On July 31, 2013, CBRBC filed a Demurrer with the Court related to the amended complaint. The Demurrer asserted that the claims raised by the plaintiff were without basis under California law because the California Business and Professions Code sets forth a three-part test for classification of real estate sales associates—as independent contractors—and all elements of the test have been satisfied by CBRBC and the affiliated sales associates. Plaintiff filed an Opposition on August 12, 2013 and a hearing was held on August 28, 2013. The Court denied the Demurrer and stated that it would look to the more complex multi-factor common law test to determine whether the plaintiff was misclassified. CBRBC filed a Petition for a Writ of Mandate with the California Court of Appeals seeking its discretionary review of that decision on September 30, 2013 and is still awaiting word from the Court of Appeal on whether it will accept the Petition.
In the event the Court of Appeal denies the Petition, the case will proceed and discovery on class and other claims will commence. The case raises significant classification claims that potentially apply to the real estate industry in general and for which there is no California case authority. As with all class action litigation, the case is inherently complex and subject to many uncertainties. We believe that CBRBC has properly classified the current and former affiliated sales associates. There can be no assurance, however, that if the action continues and a large class is subsequently certified, the plaintiffs will not seek a substantial damage award and other remedies. Given the early stage of this case, the novel claims presented and the great uncertainties regarding which sales associates, if any, may be part of a class, if one is certified, we cannot estimate a range of reasonably potential losses for this litigation. The Company believes it has complied with all applicable laws and regulations and will vigorously defend this action.
Cendant Corporate Litigation
Pursuant to the Separation and Distribution Agreement dated as of July 27, 2006 among Cendant, Realogy, Wyndham Worldwide and Travelport, each of Realogy, Wyndham Worldwide and Travelport have assumed certain contingent and other corporate liabilities (and related costs and expenses), which are primarily related to each of their respective businesses. In addition, Realogy has assumed 62.5% and Wyndham Worldwide has assumed 37.5% of certain contingent and other corporate liabilities (and related costs and expenses) of Cendant or its subsidiaries, which are not primarily related to any of the respective businesses of Realogy, Wyndham Worldwide, Travelport and/or Cendant’s vehicle rental operations, in each case incurred or allegedly incurred on or prior to the date of the separation of Travelport from Cendant.
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The Company believes that it has adequately accrued for legal matters as appropriate. The Company records litigation accruals for legal matters which are both probable and estimable. For legal proceedings for which (1) there is a reasonable possibility of loss (meaning those losses for which the likelihood is more than remote but less than probable) and (2) the Company is able to estimate a range of reasonably possible loss, the Company estimates the range of reasonably possible losses to be between zero and $10 million at September 30, 2013.
Litigation and other disputes are inherently unpredictable and subject to substantial uncertainties and unfavorable resolutions could occur. In addition, class action lawsuits can be costly to defend and, depending on the class size and claims, could be costly to settle.  As such, the Company could incur judgments or enter into settlements of claims with liability that are materially in excess of amounts accrued and these settlements could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s financial condition, results of operations or cash flows in any particular period.
Tax Matters
The Company is subject to income taxes in the United States and several foreign jurisdictions. Significant judgment is required in determining the worldwide provision for income taxes and recording related assets and liabilities. In the ordinary course of business, there are many transactions and calculations where the ultimate tax determination is uncertain. The Company is regularly under audit by tax authorities whereby the outcome of the audits is uncertain. The Company believes there is appropriate support for positions taken on its tax returns. The liabilities that have been recorded represent the best estimates of the probable loss on certain positions and are adequate for all open years based on an assessment of many factors including past experience and interpretations of tax law applied to the facts of each matter. However, the outcomes of tax audits are inherently uncertain.
Under the Tax Sharing Agreement with Cendant, Wyndham Worldwide and Travelport, the Company is generally responsible for 62.5% of payments made to settle claims with respect to tax periods ending on or prior to December 31, 2006 that relate to income taxes imposed on Cendant and certain of its subsidiaries, the operations (or former operations) of which were determined by Cendant not to relate specifically to the respective businesses of Realogy, Wyndham Worldwide, Avis Budget or Travelport.
With respect to any remaining legacy Cendant tax liabilities, the Company and its former parent believe there is appropriate support for the positions taken on Cendant’s tax returns. However, tax audits and any related litigation, including disputes or litigation on the allocation of tax liabilities between parties under the Tax Sharing Agreement, could result in outcomes for the Company that are different from those reflected in the Company’s historical financial statements.
Contingent Liability Letter of Credit
In April 2007, the Company established a standby irrevocable letter of credit for the benefit of Avis Budget Group in accordance with the Separation and Distribution Agreement. The synthetic letter of credit was utilized to support the Company’s payment obligations with respect to its share of Cendant contingent and other corporate liabilities. The stated amount of the standby irrevocable letter of credit is subject to periodic adjustment to reflect the then current estimate of Cendant contingent and other liabilities. The letter of credit was $53 million at September 30, 2013 and $70 million at December 31, 2012. The standby irrevocable letter of credit will be terminated if (i) the Company’s senior unsecured credit rating is raised to BB by Standard and Poor’s or Ba2 by Moody’s or (ii) the aggregate value of the former parent contingent liabilities falls below $30 million.
Escrow and Trust Deposits
As a service to the Company’s customers, it administers escrow and trust deposits which represent undisbursed amounts received for the settlement of real estate transactions. With the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act in July 2010, deposits at FDIC-insured institutions are permanently insured up to $250 thousand. These escrow and trust deposits totaled $416 million and $330 million at September 30, 2013 and December 31, 2012, respectively. These escrow and trust deposits are not assets of the Company and, therefore, are excluded from the accompanying Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets. However, the Company remains contingently liable for the disposition of these deposits.