The Real Deal New York

Town gets court win over exec who jumped to Douglas Elliman

Judge rules Nicole Oge violated her non-compete agreement in switching firms

August 18, 2014 04:13PM
By E.B. Solomont

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From left: Town's Jeff Appel, Nicole Oge and Douglas Elliman CEO Dottie Herman

From left: Town’s Jeff Appel, Nicole Oge and Douglas Elliman CEO Dottie Herman

A former marketing director at Town Residential – who was sued by the brokerage in June after jumping to Douglas Elliman – violated her non-compete agreement when she made the switch this spring, a judge ruled Monday.

Nicole Oge, a former marketing executive at Mercedes Benz who spent three years at Town, was slapped with the suit this spring, alleging she violated her non-compete when she joined Douglas Elliman. In a decision Monday, Judge Eileen Bransten said Oge may not perform real estate marketing services in Manhattan for Elliman – though she can do so in other markets.

“The language of the non-competition provision is quite clear,” Bransten wrote. “Oge was free to work for a range of employers upon leaving Town, even in the same field as Town; however, the restriction was that she could not do so in Manhattan within two years.”

Town also sought an injunction preventing Oge from sharing trade secrets obtained in her role at Town. Bransten denied that motion on the grounds that Town failed to show enough evidence.

Following the decision, an attorney for Elliman, Joseph Piesco Jr. of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, said his client would appeal. “We are reviewing the Court’s decision, which we respectfully believe to be erroneous and inconsistent with applicable law, and are in the process of taking such steps as we deem necessary and appropriate to protect our client’s rights,” he said. In court documents, Elliman denied Town’s suit had legal merit, and accused Town of creating a “backdoor non-compete.”

While Town declined to comment on the ruling, the court’s decision could have implications for another lawsuit in which Town accused Elliman of poaching another top executive, former managing director of new development, Reid Price. Town sued Price in October 2013. The case is ongoing.

On Monday, neither Oge nor her attorney immediately responded to a request for comment.

In court documents, Oge argued that her jobs at Town and Elliman were not the same. In an affidavit, she said the responsibilities were broader at Elliman and were not limited to the local market, as they had been at Town.

Oge also minced few words while describing her former employer, saying she enjoyed working there until this year, when “the principals set upon each other in a war for control of the company. The work environment became “abnormal, acute and extreme,” ultimately prompting her to seek help from a psychologist.

Elliman, which was also named in the suit, is the city’s largest residential firm, according to The Real Deal’s annual brokerage ranking, published in May. That ranking showed that the firm has 1,725 agents and 954 listings, compared with Town’s 472 agents and 140 listings.

“Despite Town’s formation just four years ago, the industry’s largest firm, Douglas Elliman, already feels threatened by Town,” Town CEO Jeff Appel said in an affidavit taken for the case.

  • john

    Saw a shrink over a feud between the owners. How week is that?

    psychologist
    psychologist
    psychologist
    psychologist

  • art

    I guess DE’s agent business fees will go up now

  • OpenThorEyes

    Joe Sitt didn’t win anything… This is the same spin he pulled when he was suing Heiberger…. They wanted her to be fired and Elliman to be prevented from hiring away more of their talent, they didn’t get that nor did she lose her job… More smoke and mirrors from the usual suspects

  • Char4Dew

    What is really sick is Heiberger hired them from other firms every day…

  • jroc

    Wow never mind the poaching that took place from Heiberger’s former firm Citi Habitats. SMH!

  • LetsBeReal

    Brokers are the real winners here… many of us trusted her and shared great ideas with her as she was learning the real estate business. Next thing we know she’s going to another firm and using those same ideas to help competitor brokers… total betrayal IMO. The judge got it right, let her go sell houses in Long Island.

    • BAM

      Nothing will stop the inevitable implosion of this firm. Word on the street is that they have actively trying to sell to anyone who will give them a meeting.
      Another top agent will leave soon along with another 25% of their listings… This story is nonsense, If she were smart she would get her license and start selling in NYC… judge didn’t say she couldn’t do that. Be careful what you wish for, this piece might be taking your listing

  • Cummbottom

    Dottie your talent struggle your. Not worried nor Howie since. Dominate majority sales in ManHappen. Renowned brokerage firm or so. Dottie Town exclusive new developments with. Reputed team of rain makers Laura,Steve and Natalie. Sudden interest employee’s from smaller. Firms simply refuse allow them. To displace nor erase popularity. Dottie and Howie great, idea rehire. Dolly the best agent NYC history. Town strong foreign developers getting. Tax exemptions buildings upper east side. Knowledge to close loans faster what. Developers saying Town price and able to market. E-app yeah Howie and Dottie allow. Others slice of pie of Rotten Apple. Enjoy the warmth of Bond realty. Dottie have many efficient companies. Ready become tastiest _realty in NYC. Talent rivals has begun no settlements yet. Elliman the finest!

    • Confused

      Can I have the decoder ring for this?

      • Cummbottom

        Baffled on your illogical comment? Moron take class in appropriation!

    • Broker Bob

      could someone please translate?

      • Cummbottom

        It’s correlation prose are you. Sure, your a “broker” usually. Lucid in thought need to be taught. Before you attempt to be critical. Lease have class non-selling moron! Taking everything literary well. Your problem fool!

        • Nolongerconfused

          You. Are. An. Idiot.

  • PapaDonCare

    All this talk is nonsense. Everyone knows that the genius behind Town was Heiberger. These people were just his secretaries. Though I do submit that Nicole Oge is quite the piece.

  • SomethingFishy

    Nicole is brilliant and has an amazing reputation Someone got to the judge. Period. And what about the 10 other people who left and violated their non competes after the ugly war? Town even makes secretaries sign them. Why isn’t town going after the others? Something is very wrong here.

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