A preliminary injunction hearing has been set for May 25 as real estate investment trust Welltower sues its former executive vice president and chief investment officer, Scott M. Brinker, alleging that he violated the terms of his separation agreement from the company by entering into discussions with competing REIT HCP that led to his being hired there.
Brinker left Toledo, OH-based Welltower Jan. 3 after having worked there since July 2001 in various investment and portfolio management-related capacities. He had been EVP and CIO since July 2014.
Monday, Irvine, CA-based HCP announced that it had appointed Brinker to be EVP and CIO there, effective Jan. 4, 2018.
That same day, Welltower went to Lucas County Common Pleas Court in Ohio and obtained a temporary restraining order against Brinker, which forbids him from communicating with anyone connected to HCP or disclosing confidential information to HCP related to Welltower.
Welltower also requested and received expedited discovery in the case. Brinker is required to provide to Welltower by this Friday copies of files from his computers and electronic devices dating back to Jan. 1, 2016, so that a third party can examine them to determine whether he still possesses or has deleted any Welltower-related information. And he must provide copies of all documents related to his separation from Welltower and discussions with HCP and any third parties with whom he may have spoken regarding a position at the REIT. Brinker also will be deposed by May 24.
“Welltower holds Mr. Brinker fully accountable for breaching the terms of his Separation Agreement with Welltower based upon his contact and communications with HCP, Inc.,” the REIT said in a statement. “Welltower intends to pursue all available remedies to protect its interests.”
In a phone call with McKnight’s Senior Living, HCP CEO Tom Herzog said that his company has done nothing wrong. “During our process with Scott, we were very careful to neither request nor receive any confidential or proprietary information,” he said. “We also obtained legal advice to establish protocols to ensure compliance with the obligations under his agreements with Welltower. All we have done is offer Scott a job upon expiration of his non-compete agreement, and Scott has accepted our offer.”
Herzog also expressed optimism for the outcome of the case. “Scott is well-known and highly regarded in our industry and a perfect fit for HCP,” he said. “We look forward to welcoming him to our company.”