Santa Barbara Agency Sues over Stolen Information

There is no crime in leaving your job to work for a competitor, but when you leave, you cannot take your former employer’s confidential information with you. In Santa Barbara, California, Coldwell Banker is suing startup real estate firm Compass for luring away a top manager and stealing confidential information. The stolen information in question relates to top performing agents.

Data driven Compass is a growing real estate firm with a focus on the online experience, similar to Redfin and other digital agencies, though with a specific focus in luxury and high end properties.

Compass recently opened an office in Montecito, a high end Santa Barbara suburb, and lured away John Nisbet, a high ranking manager with over 30 years of experience. Coldwell Banker accuses Nisbet of bringing along confidential data including information on top performing agents and key clients. This stolen information is at the center of both an injunction and lawsuit filed by Coldwell Banker.

In response, Compass claims that all information Nesbit has from Coldwell Banker is public in the MLS system, and does not constitute a trade secret or otherwise privileged or protected information.

Coldwell Banker met Compass in Santa Barbara Superior Court in February, when the filed an injunction asking the local judge to order Compass to destroy any copies of confidential information and cease hiring any Coldwell Banker agents. For now, it appears that Judge Thomas Anderle is siding with Compass, and agrees that the information is all public record.

The two sides will meet again in April, when the case continues forward. Coldwell Banker has filed suit seeking restitution and punitive damages.

Read the whole story at the Pacific Coast Business Times.