Morgan Stanley wins restraining order, but former broker can contact clients

New Jersey broker John Fitzgerald left for Commonwealth Financial Network last week

Dec 13, 2017 @ 3:16 pm

By Bruce Kelly

A federal judge in New Jersey on Wednesday afternoon issued a temporary restraining order against a former Morgan Stanley broker who left the firm last week and moved to Commonwealth Financial Network but left the door wide open for the broker to communicate and work with his clients.

The judge, Renee Marie Bumb of U.S. district court, New Jersey, ordered that the broker, John Fitzgerald, had 24 hours to turn over any documents he removed from Morgan Stanley, including emails, and couldn't use confidential client information to solicit Morgan Stanley clients, according to a court order.

But, Mr. Fitzgerald could return phone calls and emails from his clients, process account transfer requests from clients and keep documents given to him by customers, according to the order.

Mr. Fitzgerald's attorney, Anthony Paduano, did not return a call Wednesday afternoon to comment. A spokeswoman for Morgan Stanley, Margaret Draper, also did not return a call to comment.

Mr. Fitzgerald will have his day in court. His attorneys can argue on Jan. 9 why a preliminary injunction should not be ordered, according to a court filing.

Mr. Fitzgerald moved to Commonwealth on Friday, according to his BrokerCheck report. He has 11 years experience in the securities industry, and worked for Morgan Stanley beginning in 2008.

Morgan Stanley at the end of October said it was leaving the broker protocol for recruiting, informing advisers that the firm would enforce client confidentiality and non-solicitation agreements. It was the first wirehouse to withdraw from the protocol, which was created by a handful of large firms in 2004 to limit costly lawsuits against brokers when they moved to a new firm.

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