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Griffis v. Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

July 3, 2014

WILLIAM GRIFFIS, Plaintiff,
v.
WELLS FARGO ADVISORS, LLC and KEVIN DAILEY, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

JOAN B. GOTTSCHALL, District Judge.

William Griffis sued his former employer, Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, and supervisor, Kevin Dailey, asserting claims for fraud in the inducement, intentional misrepresentation, tortious interference with business relations, and deceptive business practices. Defendants move to stay these proceedings and compel arbitration. For the reasons explained below, the motion is granted.

I. FACTS

On December 21, 2011, Wells Fargo hired Griffis as a financial advisor at its bank branch in Niles, Illinois. The bank offered to pay Griffis a "transition bonus" of $205, 318, which was secured by a promissory note. The note established a monthly repayment plan of the bonus, but provided that if Griffis left Wells Fargo, the amount remaining on the promissory note would immediately become due and payable.

Soon after Griffis joined Wells Fargo, he found that the working conditions there were intolerable. He alleges that the light bulbs near his desk were burned out, the temperature in the office was "stiflingly hot, " and his workspace lacked privacy. He further alleges that Wells Fargo was unsupportive of him and at times "actively impeded his ability to earn a living." (ECF No. 1-1, ¶ 38.)

Griffis left Wells Fargo on September 13, 2013. Approximately two weeks later, Wells Fargo demanded that Griffis immediately repay the amount remaining on the promissory note. Griffis then filed this lawsuit against Wells Fargo and his former supervisor, Kevin Dailey. Griffis alleges that he was fraudulently induced to enter into his employment agreement with Wells Fargo and to sign the promissory note that secured his transition bonus. Specifically, he alleges that Wells Fargo, through Dailey, told Griffis before he started working that:

(i) Wells Fargo would provide Griffis with an "Integration Specialist" who would assist him in transitioning his financial advisory practice;
(ii) If Griffis joined Wells Fargo, there would be some existing business for Griffis to take over;
(iii) Griffis could transfer from one Wells Fargo bank branch to another non-bank branch at any time and could transfer his clients as well;
(iv) Wells Fargo was committed to the financial advisors program and that bankers and bank managers would refer a steady flow of business to him; and
(v) The bank managers were wholly dedicated to the financial advisors and that there was a robust incentive program in place to encourage referrals.

(ECF No. 1-1, ¶ 54.) Griffis alleges that Wells Fargo and Dailey knew these statements were false when they made them and that Griffis relied on these statements in agreeing to enter into his employment agreement and the terms of the promissory note.

Griffis further alleges that after he left the company, an agent of Wells Fargo sent letters to Griffis's former clients on Wells Fargo letterhead and signed Griffis's name. The letters recommended that the clients pursue an investment strategy plan with Wells Fargo. Griffis contends that by sending these letters, Wells Fargo ...


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