Rather than go to trial, and possibly invite another media spectacle, RE/MAX opted to settle with a former real estate agent, who alleges he was fired for exercising his First Amendment rights.
John Caffery made local headlines in March 2006 when he posted a Muslim cartoon sign in his yard in Beaumont.
After allegedly being fired for the display, Caffery filed a libel suit against RE/MAX of Texas and RE/MAX of Beaumont on March 5, 2007, in Jefferson County District Court, alleging the real estate company sullied his repetition.
The parties entered mediation on May 9.
On May 16 a court official informed the Southeast Texas Record that the parties had contacted the court with news that a settlement had been reached.
In 2006, an international controversy was started when a Danish newspaper ran what some considered to be anti-Muslim cartoons. U.S. newspapers chose not to run the cartoons, which depicted the Prophet Mohammed in caricature.
Local media reported at the time that Caffery thought the American press was acting like cowards, and couldn’t understand why they omitted the cartoons but reported on the rioting that followed their publication.
In response to the media attention, RE/MAX of Texas sent a letter to RE/MAX of Beaumont, Caffery’s employer, voicing its concern.
“It has been brought to our attention that Caffery … has been making his political views a platform for attention in our area,” the letter states. “He has sent letters on RE/MAX stationery for customers voicing his beliefs regarding religious and political opinion.
“He has also put a sign in his yard referencing his being a realtor and depicting cartoons that have appeared on the Internet. This radical behavior is a reflection on all RE/MAX offices in our area and we are extremely concerned.”
Caffery was terminated shortly after the letter was received, court papers say.
In his suit, he contended the termination violated his contract with RE/MAX.
RE/MAX of Texas was represented by Charles El Moussa, its general counsel and chief operating officer.
Beaumont attorney John Johnson represented RE/MAX of Beaumont.
Case No. B178-843