Peebles accuses ex-CIO of misusing inside info

Developer claims Tawan Davis took advantage of his position to land job with a competitor; Davis insists suit is meritless

Mar.March 19, 2016 05:10 PM

UPDATED, 9:52 p.m., March 20: Developer Don Peebles’ Miami-based company sued its former chief investment officer Tawan Davis, charging he misused inside information to land a job with a competitor of Peebles, ScanlanKemperBard (SKB). For his part, Davis said the suit was “entirely without merit” and added that he does not work for SKB.

The suit, filed in the Circuit Court of the 11th Judicial District in Miami-Dade County, charged Davis on five counts including breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, and breach of a non-disclosure agreement and an exclusivity agreement with The Peebles Corporation.

According to the suit, after about two years on the job, Davis quit as chief investment officer of The Peebles Corporation on February 10 to go to work for Peebles’ competitor ScanlanKemperBard after telling SKB confidential Peebles information.

Among other claims, the suit charges that Davis violated an exclusivity agreement with The Peebles Corporation by interfering with the company’s planned purchase of property at 733 10 Street Northwest in Washington, D.C.

The suit claims that Davis last summer falsely told the property owner and several lenders interested in financing the deal that the Peebles was unlikely to go forward with a purchase of the so-called “733 10th” property.

“Unbeknownst to TPC [The Peebles Corporation], Davis was in the process of negotiating a new position with ScanlankemperBard — a TPC competitor — and a fee for an introduction of the opportunity to acquire 733 10th,” the suit alleged. “Davis continued to use TPC’s offices and resources to pursue 733 10th on behalf of SKB — not TPC — from at least September 2015 until his departure on February 10, 2016.”

But Davis, in an interview with The Real Deal on Sunday, said claims that he works for SKB are “patently wrong.”

“I don’t work for SKB,” he said. “I did not leave the Peebles Corporation to work for SKB. I am not an employee of SKB.” Davis also stressed that he didn’t use any confidential information from his time at Peebles. 

“To the contrary, I informed The Peebles Corporation of the 733 10th transaction,” he said. They “unequivocally declined to participate in it.”

Davis added that he’s in the process of preparing a legal response to Peebles’ suit. 

SKB is part of a joint venture that bought the 733 10th property on February 29, less than three weeks after Davis departed The Peebles Corporation, according to the suit, which did not specify a dollar amount of damages.

A separate suit filed last year alleged  that while Davis was working at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, he favored The Peebles Corporation and gave the developer insider information on other corporations’ bids for a major Tribeca site. Davis was not named as a defendant in the suit, which was dismissed in May 2015. 

This post was updated to include Davis’ response.

Hiten Samtani contributed reporting. 

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