Ex parte Barze.Annotate this Case
The plaintiff in the underlying case, Brian Barze, sought a writ of mandamus to direct the Jefferson Circuit Court to set aside an order sealing a motion to stay filed by one of the defendants, James Holbrook. Barze filed suit against Sterne Agee Group, Inc., and Holbrook, the then CEO of Sterne Agee. Barze included claims of promissory fraud and fraudulent inducement, breach of contract, conversion, and defamation. In his complaint, Barze alleged that, in spring 2009, Sterne Agee had approached him about leaving his old company and becoming the chief financial officer ("CFO") of Sterne Agee and that Holbrook had told him that, if he joined Sterne Agee, Sterne Agee would pay him severance pay of at least one year's salary and bonus if the job with Sterne Agee did not work out. Barze alleged that he relied on Holbrook's promises and representations when he agreed to accept the job at Sterne Agee and when he left his former employer and gave up his opportunities there. Barze asserted that, after he started working with Sterne Agee, he was presented with an employment agreement to sign; that Holbrook assured him that the employment agreement was signed by all employees; that Holbrook assured him that Holbrook could and would take care of Barze and honor their oral agreement regarding the severance pay of at least one year's salary and bonus; and that Holbrook told Barze that he was committed to Barze as the long-term CFO of Sterne Agee. Barze asserted that, in reliance on Holbrook's assertions, he signed the employment agreement. Upon review of the dispute, the Supreme Court concluded that the trial court did not comply with the controlling case law procedure set forth in "Holland v. Eads" (614 So.2d 1012 (Ala. 1993)), it exceeded its discretion when it granted Holbrook's motion and directed the circuit clerk to seal Holbrook's motion to stay the underlying civil action. Accordingly, the Supreme Court granted the petition for the writ of mandamus and directed the trial court to vacate its July 23, 2014, order granting Holbrook's motion for leave to file his motion to stay under seal and sealing Holbrook's motion to stay.