JPMorgan Chase and Co. recently attempted to file a temporary restraining order (TRO) and an injunction against a former employee, Chase Private Client advisor Taulant Cela. Cela has allegedly solicited his former clients at Chase to move with him to his new post at Wells Fargo. A judge from a federal court in Newark, NJ, denied JPMorgan’s requests for both the TRO and the injunction. However, the ruling was issued “without prejudice,” which means that JPMorgan can continue to press claims.
Cela has been in the financial services industry for more than two decades, 10 years of which he spent with JPMorgan. In his earlier years in the industry, Cela worked for Merrill Lynch and Solid ISG Capital Markets, a Texas brokerage that is no longer registered. At JPMorgan, Cela worked with 412 clients and managed more than $122 million of their assets, according to court documents. JPMorgan alleged that Cela has already helped to facilitate the move of five of his former Chase clients to Wells Fargo. These clients have a total of $8.5 million in assets.
JPMorgan claims that Cela violated a clause in his Chase contract that barred him from soliciting clients for one year after leaving the firm, yet JPMorgan’s lawyers claimed that 12 Chase clients reported Cela’s calling and asking them to join his client roster at Wells Fargo. Some of the clients reportedly claimed that they received multiple calls from Cela. One of those clients stated that he sternly rejected Cela’s offer to move his account to Wells Fargo, but that Cela persisted in trying to convince him to do so.
Cela denies all allegations, and he claims that JPMorgan has a history of unjustly filing TROs against its former employees. In Cela’s opposition brief, he claims that the allegations against him are nothing more than “hearsay” and that JPMorgan has not provided sufficient evidence to support its allegations against him.
JPMorgan will likely continue to pursue its TRO claim and an injunction, as Cela has failed to comply with the firm’s discovery requests for documents and has also refused to be deposed.