| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Nov 8 A federal judge ordered a former
Morgan Stanley financial adviser to return client information to
the firm and prohibited him from soliciting his prior clients
because he subverted the firm's ability to reach those clients.
Denis O'Brien, who worked at Morgan Stanley for nine
years before his sudden departure for Raymond James Financial
on Oct. 25, changed 206 client telephone numbers in the
Morgan Stanley contact management system before he left, causing
"irreparable harm" to the firm, the decision read.
"O'Brien's deliberate sabotage of Morgan Stanley's client
records deprived customers of the right to make an informed
decision to either maintain their account at Morgan Stanley or
transfer their account to Raymond James," read the decision,
published November 6, by Judge Vanessa L. Bryant of the U.S.
District Court for the District of Connecticut.
O'Brien could not be reached for comment. His attorney
declined to comment, as did a Raymond James spokeswoman.
The court's order that O'Brien surrender all information on
his former clients and not solicit them did not apply to the
roughly 15 clients who had already followed O'Brien to Raymond
James as of Nov. 4, the decision read.
Morgan Stanley sued O'Brien on October 31, claiming that he
changed the phone numbers for 156 client accounts on the firm's
computerized records, which prevented the firm from promptly
reaching O'Brien's clients after he left.
O'Brien took a list of his clients' contact information to
solicit them at his new job while leaving a copy of the correct
phone numbers with the firm, but Morgan Stanley was initially
unaware of the discrepancy between that copy and the altered
computerized records, the earlier complaint read.
While the court decided that O'Brien's actions complied with
the "technical aspects" of the industry protocol that allows
advisers to take client contact information with them to their
new firms, it ruled that he violated its "spirit" by changing
Morgan Stanley's computerized records.
"We are obviously pleased with the Federal District Court's
decision. The Protocol for Broker Recruiting is not intended to
shield departing financial advisors who engage in wrongful
conduct," Morgan Stanley spokeswoman Christine Jockle said in an