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William Blair drops suit accusing philanthropist of stealing financial documents

Jim Mabie | Sun-Times library

William Blair & Co. dropped a lawsuit last week that accused a well-known Chicago philanthropist and other former employees of stealing confidential documents before they resigned from the financial services firm.

The motion for injunctive relief, filed in February, alleged that Jim Mabie and three other former William Blair advisers — including his son, David Mabie — took the records before leaving to start their own equity firm, Chicago Capital.

After both parties signed an agreement to resolve the case earlier this month, William Blair filed a motion to dismiss the suit on Thursday.

“The dismissal of the lawsuit established the fact that we did not take any of the material that we were not entitled to, contrary to the claim by William Blair,” David Mabie said in an email. “Although we anticipated the suit because that’s standard practice when you have a large group that leaves an investment firm. We were disappointed with the personalization of the suit and the incendiary nature of the claims that the court ruled were entirely based on inference.”

William Blair had asked a judge to order Mabie and his colleagues to return the confidential documents, which it said included “highly sensitive customer financial information,” according to the motion filed in February.

William Blair then initiated an arbitration before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and Chicago Capital filed a counterclaim, according to the agreement.

Mabie and his colleagues stated under oath that they didn’t take any such documents before they resigned, the agreement said. Chicago Capital’s subsequent searches for the documents came up empty.

As part of the deal, Chicago Capital doesn’t need to turn over any documents or pay any damages, measures William Blair had previously sought through a court order, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

“The parties agree that the execution of this agreement shall not be construed or act as an admission of liability by any party for any wrongdoing or damages claimed,” the agreement said.

Representatives for William Blair and Chicago Capital didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Jim Mabie serves as the chairman of the board of trustees for WTTW. He also sits on the boards of WBEZ, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Lyric Opera and Chicago High School for the Arts.