EF Hutton, former exec trade arguments over lawsuit seeking back pay

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

EF Hutton is involved in a legal dispute with a former employee.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

EF Hutton America and a former executive are disputing in court whether a federal lawsuit should be heard where it was filed in Pennsylvania or in Ohio.

Dennis White filed a lawsuit against the company late last year, claiming the company failed to compensate him for his work and violated the terms of an agreement to make him president. But the company has asked that the case be dismissed, or at least transferred to federal court in Ohio.

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In a motion filed earlier this month, attorneys for EF Hutton America argue the Pennsylvania court lacks jurisdiction and that White’s allegations about his role conflict with earlier statements. The company also said in court documents that while White initially said the terms of his employment were laid out in a draft term sheet, he’s now suing based on an oral agreement White said he had with the company.

the company also argued White’s most recent argument shifts important facts about his time with the company.

“While (White) stated in his amended complaint that he became the purported president of Hutton in October 2014 and worked as president of Hutton for a two-year term starting in October 2014, he now states in his opposition brief that he was going to become president after September 2016 for the following two years,” the company’s motion says.

EF Hutton America CEO Chris Daniels declined to comment. the company’s attorneys didn’t return a call from the Springfield News-Sun seeking comment.

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George Bochetto, an attorney representing White, said that the company’s arguments regarding White’s role are separate and should be dealt with once jurisdictional issues are resolved. He said he expects the case will proceed in Pennsylvania and the fact that the company’s headquarters is in Springfield is irrelevant.

EF Hutton Tower. Bill Lackey/Staff
EF Hutton Tower. Bill Lackey/Staff

“They came to Pennsylvania, they hired a Pennsylvanian knowing he would do his work in Pennsylvania,” Bochetto said. “To suggest they have no contact with Pennsylvania is kind of silly in my view.”

White’s motion claims the majority of work he conducted took place from his home office in Pennsylvania, making it irrelevant that EF Hutton America relocated to Ohio. The first time White visited Ohio was on Sept. 2 when the company officially opened its downtown Springfield office. Just a few days later, he says in court documents that the company converted his role from president to a mid-level marketing position.

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EF Hutton America has responded in court filings, saying the draft term sheet specifically required White to work from the company headquarters, which ended up in Springfield. The company’s motion also claims it was clear that the company’s executives would be expected to work at the company’s headquarters.

“In fact, it defies logic that if all the employees and executives could work from their home offices, why would Hutton move its headquarters to Ohio and lease a 150,000-square-foot office building, and why would Daniels relocate to Ohio?” the company’s motion says.

Staying with the story

The Springfield News-Sun has provided extensive coverage of EF Hutton America and its recent announcement to make Springfield its corporate headquarters. The paper has spoken to analysts, delved into the firm’s financial statements and its past history.

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