Merrill Drops TRO Bid After Seizing iPads from RBC Team in Maryland
Merrill Lynch has agreed to voluntarily dismiss a federal lawsuit that the brokerage had filed June 4th against a three-advisor Annapolis, Maryland-based team who joined RBC Wealth Management.
“After the filing of the court action, we were able to secure the return of the iPads and all confidential customer information,” the spokesperson said. “We are also pleased that the advisors agreed to abide by their non-solicitation restrictions.”
The legal battle, however, is not over as Merrill said it would be “continuing our remaining claims” for damages in arbitration with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
Members of the RBC team, which is led by Gordon Scott Wallace, a 32-year industry veteran who joined Merrill in 1989, and also includes Scott’s son, Matthew Wallace, did not return requests for comment. A lawyer for the team also did not respond to requests for comment.
On June 4, the day after the team’s departure, Merrill had asked a federal court in Maryland to stop the brokers from soliciting clients and to order them to return any customer contact information they took to their new firm.
Both Merrill and RBC participate in the Broker Protocol, a pact that allows brokers who jump between signatory firms to take limited customer information and contact their former clients. Merrill, however, had claimed that the team invalidated the agreement’s protections by using personal iPads to take photos of detailed customer account information that would not have been allowed by the Protocol.
The firm once again raised non-solicitation claims based on bank-referred customers, which it says are governed by separate agreements and are not subject to the Protocol’s protections.
The claims mirrored those Merrill made in April in a separate case in which the firm succeeded in persuading a Tennessee state court judge to block a Wells Fargo Advisors team from contacting lead-and-referral customers. (The Chancery Court judge in Davidson County ruled those brokers could still solicit the rest of their client base.)