BOKF sues former executive, Sunflower Bank

DENVER — BOKF NA, the Oklahoma-based bank that acquired Colorado Business Bank in October 2018 for about $1 billion, has sued a former CoBiz executive and his new employer, Sunflower Bank NA, over alleged theft of trade secrets and other allegations.

BOKF filed suit in U.S. District Court in Denver, Tuesday, against Sunflower and Kelly Condon, a former senior business-development executive for CoBiz and now a senior vice president and director of market development for Denver-based Sunflower.

The lawsuit seeks damages and injunctive relief to stop Condon “from continuing to breach the fiduciary duties he owes to BOKF and misappropriate BOKF’s trade secrets for the benefit of his new employer, Sunflower Bank, N.A.”

A call to Condon was not immediately returned. Jeanne Lipson, vice president and marketing manager for Sunflower, said in an email that the bank “does not comment on matters related to potential litigation.”

Joel Neckers, an attorney with Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP in Denver, which is representing BOKF, did not return a call as of BizWest’s deadline.

BOK Financial operates a branch in Boulder and in February announced that it would close branches in Fort Collins and Louisville, with another CoBiz branch in Boulder consolidated with a Colorado State Bank & Trust branch and rebranded as BOK FInancial.

Sunflower Bank resulted from the June 2017 merger of Sunflower and Strategic Growth Bancorp. Sunflower operates branches in Boulder, Broomfield and Longmont.

Bank executives often switch employers after mergers and acquisitions, and competition can be fierce for experienced employees. Condon worked for almost 10 years as a business-development executive at Colorado State Bank & Trust and CoBiz, and briefly for BOKF after the completion of the CoBiz acquisition. In the business-development role, Condon was privy to confidential, proprietary and secret information, including information on customers and terms the bank used in offering products and services, according to the lawsuit.

“This information is not generally known (either publicly or in the financial services or banking industry in general) and can be used by competitors to take BOKF’s customers and compete with BOKF for new customers,” the lawsuit states.

Condon announced on March 20 his intention to resign from BOKF and take a business-development position at Sunflower, providing two weeks’ notice, with his employment at BOKF scheduled to end April 4. BOKF paid Condon through April 4.

“Before BOKF could block Condon’s access to its confidential, propriety, and secret information, Condon transferred to himself an unknown amount of that information,” the lawsuit states.

BOKF alleges that Condon transferred contact information for more than 130 BOKF customers and “immediately used this information to solicit over 130 BOKF customers and customer referral sources to work with him after his move to Sunflower,” the lawsuit said.

He’s alleged to have contacted those customers through his personal email account, emailing the customers, “Today I will be resigning to take an awesome position at Sunflower Bank as SVP – Director of Market Development. . . after I am plugged in I will reach out to discuss how we can work together.”

BOKF accuses Condon of establishing “a relationship between Sunflower and a long-time BOKF customer, and Sunflower is now competing with BOKF for new business from that customer. Condon has admitted to taking BOKF’s confidential, propriety, and secret information, but has refused to return it or permit BOKF to perform a forensic analysis of his personal computer system and email account.”

The lawsuit accuses Condon with breach of fiduciary duty, violation of federal and state trade-secrets laws, civil theft, civil conspiracy, and breach of a confidentiality agreement and contract. It accuses Sunflower of aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary responsibility, violation of federal and state trade-secrets laws, civil theft and civil conspiracy.

“Sunflower has participated and continues to participate knowingly in Condon’s breach of his duty of loyalty to BOKF by, among other things, (a) establishing a relationship with a long-time BOKF customer based on Condon’s use of BOKF Data, and (b) allowing Condon to use BOKF Data in the course and scope of his employment with Sunflower to solicit BOKF’s customers,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order; a preliminary and permanent injunction preventing Condon and Sunflower from using, disclosing, disseminating, distributing, or copying BOKF’s trade secrets and confidential information; return of any trade secrets; expedited discovery, including a forensic investigation of the defendants’ computer systems, storage devices or other media; and an award of damages to be determined at trial, to include attorney fees.

“The prior and continued use of BOKF’s confidential, propriety, and secret information by Condon and Sunflower amounts to a breach of Condon’s fiduciary duty of loyalty to BOKF, Sunflower’s aiding and abetting Condon’s breach of his fiduciary duty, misappropriation of BOKF’s trade secrets, civil theft, and civil conspiracy. As a result, BOKF has sustained and will continue to sustain irreparable harm and significant damages,” the lawsuit states.

 

This article has been updated to include a comment from Sunflower Bank.

DENVER — BOKF NA, the Oklahoma-based bank that acquired Colorado Business Bank in October 2018 for about $1 billion, has sued a former CoBiz executive and his new employer, Sunflower Bank NA, over alleged theft of trade secrets and other allegations.

BOKF filed suit in U.S. District Court in Denver, Tuesday, against Sunflower and Kelly Condon, a former senior business-development executive for CoBiz and now a senior vice president and director of market development for Denver-based Sunflower.

The lawsuit seeks damages and injunctive relief to stop Condon “from continuing to breach the fiduciary duties he owes to BOKF and misappropriate BOKF’s trade secrets for the benefit of his new employer, Sunflower Bank, N.A.”

A call to Condon was not immediately returned. Jeanne Lipson, vice president and marketing manager for Sunflower, said in an email that the bank “does not comment on matters related to potential litigation.”

Joel Neckers, an attorney with Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP in Denver, which is representing BOKF, did not return a call as of BizWest’s deadline.

BOK Financial operates a branch in Boulder and in February announced that it would close branches in Fort Collins and Louisville, with another CoBiz branch in Boulder consolidated with a Colorado State Bank & Trust branch and rebranded as BOK FInancial.

Sunflower Bank resulted from the June 2017 merger of Sunflower and Strategic Growth Bancorp. Sunflower operates branches in Boulder, Broomfield and Longmont.

Bank executives often switch employers after mergers and acquisitions, and competition can be fierce for experienced employees. Condon worked for almost 10…