DALLAS, TX -- (Marketwired) -- 08/05/14 --
On July 31, Bell Nunnally & Martin LLP attorneys secured a favorable Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration panel decision dissolving a temporary restraining order imposed upon a financial advisor formerly contracted by Fort Worth-based First Command Financial Planning, Inc. (First Command), which sought to enforce a covenant not to compete. This panel also denied First Command's request for a permanent injunction.
First Command on July 9 obtained an ex parte temporary restraining order from Texas 48th District Judge David Evans, seeking to enforce a non-competition covenant against investment advisor Kirk H. Baur, an independent contractor with whom it had an ongoing business relationship from 1997 to June 27 of this year.
Baur, represented by Bell Nunnally attorneys Christopher B. Trowbridge and Benjamin L. Riemer, responded by filing a motion on July 11 to dissolve the temporary restraining order and compel FINRA arbitration, a dispute resolution method stipulated under the parties' agreement.
Bell Nunnally attorneys were able to secure an emergency FINRA arbitration session in Philadelphia. Trowbridge and Riemer, joined by co-counsel Benjamin Folkman and Paul C. Jensen, Jr. of Cherry Hill, N.J. and Philadelphia-based Folkman Law, argued that Baur's non-competition clause was unenforceable, unreasonable and ambiguous. They asserted that First Command was unable to establish either a likelihood of success on the merits of its case or that it would suffer any irreparable harm from any alleged breach of the covenant.
After three days of testimony, the emergency FINRA panel found in favor of Baur and ordered that the temporary restraining order be dissolved and the permanent injunction denied. The FINRA case is number 14-02163.
"As an investment advisor, I am a fiduciary to my clients. Despite this lawsuit, my primary focus has been and will be on doing what's best for my clients," said Baur, now an investment advisor with DaVinci Financial Designs LLC.
"The structure of non-compete covenants, in terms of enforceability, is an evolving situation, and one that the firm is well-versed in as we regularly represent clients on both sides of the issue," said Trowbridge, partner at Bell Nunnally. "The FINRA panel's decision provides additional clarity with respect to the enforceability of covenants not to compete signed by independent financial advisors. We are pleased with the panel's decision enabling Mr. Baur to move forward with his career."
Trowbridge is a commercial litigator with a particular emphasis on complex business disputes, trying cases before juries and judges across the country. His litigation docket routinely includes intellectual property disputes, securities litigation, broker-dealer disputes and FINRA and American Arbitration Association (AAA) arbitrations. Trowbridge's clients are nationwide and range from high-net-worth individuals to Fortune 500 companies.
Riemer is a commercial litigator with a focus on aggressive representation of clients in a wide variety of industries, and in all areas of complex business litigation. He has litigated high-stakes business disputes in courts throughout the country. Riemer has significant experience in matters involving business torts, fiduciary duty claims, securities litigation and intellectual property disputes.
About Bell Nunnally & Martin LLP
With more than 50 attorneys and three decades of doing business, Bell Nunnally & Martin LLP is among the most respected business law firms in Texas. The depth of the firm's knowledge and breadth of its expertise sets Bell Nunnally apart. The firm provides a full range of services, including litigation, appellate law, commercial finance, corporate and securities, creditors' rights, bankruptcy, health law, intellectual property, labor and employment, immigration, real estate, entertainment, mergers and acquisitions, estate planning, tax and white collar criminal defense. Bell Nunnally is regularly singled out as a "Go-To" firm by America's largest companies each year in Corporate Counsel magazine. For more information, please visit www.bellnunnally.com.
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Source: Bell Nunnally and Martin LLP