Judge William C. Griesbach, of the Eastern District of Wisconsin, recently denied a request for a temporary restraining order filed by Smith Barney against several departing brokers and their new employer, Robert W. Baird & Co. Smith Barney sought a TRO in conjunction with Rule 13804 of the FINRA Code of Arbitration Procedure, meaning entry of a TRO by the district court would have triggered an arbitration within 15 days.
The non-solicitation provision provided that the departing brokers would not:
solicit by mail, by phone, by personal meeting or by any other means, either directly or indirectly, any Account whom I served or whose name became known to me during my employment at Smith Barney in any office and in any capacity. My agreement "not to solicit" means that I will not "during my employment and for a period of one year thereafter, initiate any contact or communication, of any kind whatsoever, for the purpose of inviting, encouraging or requesting any Account:
a) to transfer from Smith Barney to me or to my new employer, or b) to open a new account with me or with my new employer, or c) to otherwise discontinue its patronage and business relationship with Smith Barney
The Court ruled that the provision was overly broad and invalid under Wisconsin law because, among other things, "it would prevent the financial advisor from contacting even individuals with whom he’d had no prior contact".
Smith Barney stated it was considering its options following the ruling.