Compass agent Cindy Ambuehl is claiming that an ex-assistant used confidential information and insider knowledge to kick-start her own career in luxury real estate.

Cindy Ambuehl

A former TV actress who turned to real estate, Ambuehl filed a lawsuit in L.A. County Superior Court accusing Christina Collins of Hilton & Hyland of violating trade secrets law on Tuesday, the Real Deal reports.

The suit alleges that Collins, who had worked for Ambuehl as a personal assistant at The Agency from 2014 until 2017, used her private client, listing and lead information to launch her own career in L.A. luxury real estate. Ambuehl hopes to receive compensatory and punitive damages, as well as commission money from any deals made with proprietary information.

Collins supposedly “knew that plaintiff’s business was lucrative and she realized that the proprietary information, i.e. the specific contracts and wish lists plaintiff cultivated over the years, had tremendous value,” reads the lawsuit. Ambuehl is currently in 121st place on RealTrends’ list of the country’s top 1,000 real estate agents in the U.S. and had a recorded sales volume of $110 million in sales volume in 2019.

Ambuehl moved to Compass from the Agency in March 2019. Collins, who obtained her California real estate license in 2016, became an agent for The Agency in 2017 but left four months later. Ambuehl’s lawsuit alleges that Collins was let go “after several of plaintiffs’ clients complained that Collins continued to contact them behind Cindy’s back.”

Collins joined Hilton & Hyland in 2018 — according to the lawsuit, she had spent some time between them and The Agency working for Mercer Vine, an agency that closed in 2018 after its main backer, the now-convicted Robert Shapiro, first started being investigated for a Securities and Exchange Commission fraud lawsuit.

Collins told Inman that there is “no merit” to the claims in Ambuehl’s lawsuit and that she broke out into real estate independently.

Christina Collins

“Cindy’s allegations (now nearly 3 years old) are not only frivolous but have been debunked repeatedly and Cindy knows that,” Collins said in a statement. “Unfortunately, in my view, these allegations and complaint are the result of Cindy’s anger and resentment stemming from my decision to stop working for her and branch out on my own. She has essentially been on a vendetta since that time to not only hurt me personally but professionally”

Ambuehl’s attorney, Beverly Hills-based Neville Johnson, declined Inman’s request for comment.

Collins also said that she has asked Ambuehl to remove Hilton & Hyland, who she was not working for at the time in question, from the lawsuit and intends “to countersue Cindy if she continues what is essentially harassment at this point.”

Email Veronika Bondarenko

Compass
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