EF Hutton seeks to throw out former exec’s lawsuit over disputed pay

Former executive at Springfield based-financial firm claimed he wasn’t paid for 2 years of work, which the company disputes.

EF Hutton America has responded to a lawsuit filed by a former company executive, arguing in court documents that the case should be dismissed.

Dennis White sued EF Hutton America and CEO Chris Daniels in federal court in Pennsylvania late last year, alleging the firm failed to compensate him for his work as president for at least two years.

RELATED: Springfield-based EF Hutton; Fraud wiped out 8 weeks of business

Attorneys for EF Hutton asked the court last week to dismiss the case, claiming that White’s allegations were based on a draft term sheet that didn’t constitute a formal offer.

“The draft term agreement is clear and unambiguous: it is marked ‘draft’ and plainly states that it is not an offer,” attorneys for EF Hutton America said in the court records.

Attorneys representing the financial company also claim the federal court in Eastern Pennsylvania doesn’t have jurisdiction over the case and it should also be dismissed for that reason. Even if the case proceeds, it should be transferred to the federal court in Dayton, they say in the filings.

READ MORE: Springfield-based EF Hutton expands into mobile phone service

The company’s attorneys also argue White contradicted his own arguments by attaching a financial report for the fiscal year 2015 in which he is listed as a director, not the company president. That form included a list of company executives that didn’t include White, EF Hutton America alleges.

The draft sheet also states that White would be required to work at the company headquarters, which at the time was expected to be in Palm Beach County, Florida.

“At bottom, (White) was a director of defendant EF Hutton America, for which he provided services and was compensated for his services, as evident in the very exhibits he attaches,” the memorandum states. “After Hutton’s headquarters were relocated to Ohio, defendants sought to make him the designated president, but (White) refused to move to Ohio, as Daniels had done. Instead, (White) has brought this suit against the corporate defendants and Daniels, individually, claiming he should have been compensated since October 2014 as purported president of Hutton.”

Daniels declined to comment. White’s attorneys also didn’t respond to requests for comment on the case.

MORE DETAILS: Springfield-based EF Hutton offers new product for investors

White filed the lawsuit last fall, saying the company hired him in 2014 to serve as president. His lawsuit alleges he served in that role for two years and provided assistance on strategic decisions, acquisition attempts and investments, among other duties.

The lawsuit alleges the firm didn’t pay White a promised $250,000 annual salary, bonuses, equity incentives and other benefits. The complaint seeks damages of more than $150,000, court costs and other expenses.

Daniels previously disputed those claims in an interview with the Springfield News-Sun, saying then that White was a member of the board of directors but was never hired as president. White filed the lawsuit because EF Hutton America wouldn’t agree to his demand to establish a new office in California, Daniels previously said, and instead required him to work in Springfield.

EF Hutton America’s response also argued it’s unlikely White would have agreed to work under the terms described in his lawsuit.

“It is implausible that (the) plaintiff who touts himself as a successful businessman with 35 years of experience would rely on the draft term sheet as his employment contract,” EF Hutton America says in court records.

RELATED: EF Hutton: Exec refused Springfield move, wanted Beverly Hills office

Several local officials have said they are hoping the company’s decision to move to Springfield will create jobs and spur growth downtown. The company has purchased two downtown buildings, and has said it will invest $22 million and add 400 jobs in downtown Springfield over the next five years.

But the company has faced several challenges since it began operating in downtown Springfield last fall. Along with the lawsuit, company officials said earlier this year the firm lost two months of business after becoming the victim of an internet marketing scam. The firm’s office area was also vandalized.


Retailer files for bankruptcy, Upper Valley Mall store’s future unclear

PHOTOS: Looking back at Upper Valley Mall in Springfield

Clark County seeks to develop long-term jobs plan to grow economy

2 new businesses to open at Upper Valley Mall

Lawsuit against Walmart claims nothing crafty about its ‘craft’ beers

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.

About the Author