“MortgageBrokers.com claims that it owns the mortgage agents’ lists of customers and phone numbers pursuant to their agent agreements with MortgageBrokers.com.”
“MortgageBrokers.com also alleges in the lawsuit, among other things, that the mortgage agents are in breach of their agreements for allegedly competing with MortgageBrokers.com and allegedly soliciting ‘their’ clients within the year after their resignation.”
This latest action, which goes before the court May 8, is part of the $18 million that MBC says MB.com is suing it for.
Apparently, MB.com also claims that MBC has:
not made good on two $150,000 promissory notes advanced to it
violated MB.com’s trademarks and copyrights
conspired to injure MB.com
and the list goes on…
MBC is not just a defendant, however. It is counter-suing MB.com. (Here, apparently, is the public information on that claim.)
MB.com is headed by Alex Haditaghi, who is now Founder and Executive Vice Chairman of Pacific Mortgage Group (PMG). (PMG owns Mortgage Architects and the lender Radius Financial.)
MBC principal Michael Hapke says his company is seeking $370,000 plus legal costs. Hapke claims this represents commissions that MB.com wrongly withheld from his group after it left MB.com in January 2010.
“This has gone too far,” says Hapke, who notes that MBC has had to spend more than $500,000 in legal fees to defend itself.
“Some of our agents being sued for $200,000 are merely staff who hold agent licences for administrative purposes,” he says.
“Some are people who have done only $269,000, $1.7 million, or $172,000 in volume last year, most of which are personal deals (for friends or family)” and which are incidental to their jobs as admin staff, says Hapke.
We requested comment from Haditaghi, but he had not provided a statement on this matter by press time.
If ever there were an example where two litigants need to settle, this is probably it. Both have burned through hundreds of thousands in legal costs and the negative publicity is not helping either party.
Note: The claims above are all alleged at this point. None of this has been proven in court, as far as we know.
Side Note: As a broker, this story underlines the importance of being comfortable with the language in your contract. There are multiple brokerage firms that word their agreements to make a claim against your client lists, phone numbers, and/or agents, if you leave. Depending on how they’re phrased, these contractual handcuffs can be enforced (regardless of what recruiters say when they’re courting you to sign up). The bottom line for brokers: unless a firm is providing you tremendous value up front, negotiate these silly clauses out…or find another brokerage.