Fidelity has filed a lawsuit against a former vice president and financial advisor in its Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. office, and his new employer, Morgan Stanley. In its lawsuit, Fidelity asked a federal court to issue an injunction calling for its former FA, Anthony Guadagnino, and Morgan Stanley to return all its records and stop soliciting its clients.
The lawsuit alleges Guadagnino, who left Fidelity in June, violated his employment agreement and Morgan Stanley assisted him in doing so. It also alleges he stole trade secrets and engaged in unfair competition and tortious interference.
Guadagnino’s counsel, Michael S. Taaffe, a partner in the Sarasota, Fla. office of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, did not return a call by press time.
A spokesperson from Morgan Stanley declined to comment on the new litigation.
According to the lawsuit, Taaffe responded to a cease and desist letter Fidelity previously dispatched by denying that Guadagnino was contacting customers for the purpose of soliciting their business and stating that he had “only responded to clients who contacted him.”
“Guadagnino’s counsel further stated that Guadagnino had not retained and was not using any of Fidelity’s confidential or proprietary information,” and “therefore stated that Guadagnino declined to sign the affidavit as ‘unnecessary,’” the lawsuit states.
Since the lawyer sent that letter, however, Fidelity alleges it has learned of “multiple instances” of Guadagnino soliciting its clients.
“One of the customers even confirmed that the mailing was not just a generic notification but included a personal letter from Guadagnino that talked about the customer transferring his accounts and included a second page with instructions on how to transfer the accounts. The customer indicated that he had no interest in moving his business to Guadagnino,” the lawsuit states.
As previously reported, Fidelity occasionally seeks injunctions to bar its fleeing FAs from soliciting its clients.