- Lawsuit claims Stockton engaged in a multi-year scheme to poach employees and divert business from Success Mortgage to Stockton.
- In 2021, Stockton reported taking over 4% of Success Mortgage's total application volume for that year, the lawsuit states.
- Lawsuit states Stockton offered top-producing LO approximately $600,000 as a retention bonus to leave Success Mortgage.
Another day, another poaching lawsuit. This time Michigan-based Success Mortgage Partners Inc. has filed suit against Kentucky-based Stockton Mortgage Corp. over claims of a “brazen and unlawful scheme by Stockton to solicit and hire over 30 Success Mortgage employees,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit was filed Dec. 9 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
According to the lawsuit, Stockton engaged in a multi-year scheme to poach employees, misappropriating its confidential and trade secret information, and diverting business from Success Mortgage to Stockton.
Typically, these lawsuits name a single or few conspirators responsible for organizing a mass departure or diverting loan information or trade secrets to the new employer. However, Success Mortgage claims in its suit that this was a coordinated campaign by Stockton over at least a two-year period to target Success Mortgage, poach key employees, misappropriate trade secret information, and divert business from Success Mortgage to Stockton.
In late 2020, Stockton began by recruiting Success Mortgage Georgia Branch Manager Craig Bland. Bland violated his employee contract by leaving to work for Stockton, the lawsuit claims, adding he also diverted business from Success to Stockton and solicited his entire team to move from Success to Stockton.
In 2021, Bland continued to solicit Success employees to resign and begin working for Stockton, and hired Eugene Antonelli (a former Success employee) as a recruiter, acting as an agent of Stockton in coordinating its further attacks on Success Mortgage, the lawsuit states.
However, a number of Success employees remained faithful to their employer, the lawsuit states, including accountant Jackie Busse; loan officer Kristin Jamieson; Pa. Branch Manager Hakim Singleton; and Florida LO Adam Klugh, among others.
Stockton offered Jamieson, a top-producing LO, approximately $600,000 as a retention bonus to leave Success Mortgage and join Stockton, the lawsuit claims. Jamieson ultimately declined Stockton’s invitations to breach her employment agreement with Success Mortgage.
On multiple occasions, Stockton encouraged and assisted the Florida employees to send Stockton confidential and trade secret information, the complaint states. In some instances, the lawsuit states, Florida employees sent such information directly to Stockton; in other cases, they sent the information to their personal email accounts before sending it to Stockton.
According to the complaint, in 2021, Stockton reported taking 582 mortgage loan applications in Michigan, representing over 4% of its total application volume for that year; in 2020, Stockton took 210 mortgage loan applications in Michigan, comprising approximately 1.5% of its overall mortgage loan application volume nationwide; in 2019, Stockton reported 268 mortgage loan applications from Michigan, representing over 4.6% of its nationwide mortgage loan application volume.
In all, Success Mortgage claims Stockton’s unlawful conduct has caused Success Mortgage to suffer substantial damages. In the complaint, Success Mortgage states it is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages "to be determined at trial by jury," as well as court costs and attorneys fees.