Cushman & Wakefield says JLL poached sales execs, support staff

Claims hires violate non-solicit agreements

(Photo Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)
(Photo Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

The battle between two big real estate brokerages is heating up in Dallas.

Cushman & Wakefield claimed that rival firm JLL poached members of its Dallas-based institutional investment sales team under the orders of two JLL employees who formerly worked for Cushman & Wakefield, CoStar News reported. Soliciting members of the team would be a breach of the non-solicitation agreements signed between Cushman & Wakefield and the former team members.

Last month, Mike McDonald and Jonathan Napper resigned from Cushman and joined the rival firm in what Cushman & Wakefield says was a violation of their non-compete contracts. Within three weeks of McDonald and Napper announcing their moves, five additional members of their investment sales team informed Cushman & Wakefield that they would also be leaving for JLL.

In a lawsuit against JLL, Carlo Barel di Sant’Albano, chief executive of global capital markets and investor services for Cushman & Wakefield, said the five team members — Ryan Stevens, Ben Esterer, Bailey Wood, Keenan Ryan and Macki McKim — gave no notice when they announced their plans to shift to JLL.

Cushman & Wakefield managing principal Douglas Jones said the five team members JLL poached were considered to be nonproducers who were part of McDonald and Napper’s support team.

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“It would not be economically justifiable for a brokerage company to recruit and hire a group of non-producing professionals, such as those from the Dallas office, without hiring the producers with whom they work,” Jones said in the declaration.

Jones said that in multiple one-on-one meetings he had with the five team members after McDonald and Napper left, they told him that JLL had reached out to them with job offers within five days of the previous departures and “that while they did not want to leave C&W, they felt that they needed to move to JLL to keep the team together.”

In response to the lawsuit, a court signed a temporary restraining order last week that bars McDonald and Napper from working on any real estate deals in the United States for a two-week period.

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