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The Real Deal Los Angeles

Lincoln Escrow sues competitor for alleged officer poaching

Firm accuses former employee of sharing confidential info
By Gregory Cornfield |
Research by Haru Coryne
November 05, 2018 05:07PM

(Credit: iStock)

An escrow firm has filed suit alleging a competing firm poached an escrow officer in order to steal confidential information and profit illegally from it.

Lincoln Escrow, Inc., filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court last month seeking $125,000 in damages from Escrow Today Inc., for complaints involving a former officer, which include alleged breach of contract and unfair competition, among other claims.

The suit is the latest to arise as brokerages and other real estate players move to shield their private relationships and information from being diverted or leaked to competitors. Earlier this year in Los Angeles, for example, CBRE filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging Richard Rizika stole proprietary information and trade secrets before leaving to launch his own firm.

Lincoln claims S. Cecilia Meza left their firm in 2017 to join Escrow Today and did not tell managers she was joining a competing firm, only that she was quitting.

Lincoln accepted Meza’s resignation with the expectation “that she would continue her duty of loyalty …. and not render services for another company” and “would maintain confidential information,” according to the lawsuit.

Since then, Meza allegedly used what she knew to divert escrow business and push parties to open new escrow accounts at Escrow Today, rather than at Lincoln — and to profit illegally.

The lawsuit further alleges that Lincoln’s success “is dependent on its established relationships with its customers.” Meza’s employment contract with Lincoln Escrow specifies she protect Lincoln’s confidential information about clients and avoid discussing any matters of a confidential nature with competitors.

Representatives for Lincoln Escrow and Escrow Today did not return requests for comment.