Glass America and Guardian Auto Glass in Legal Battle Over Non-Competition Agreement
Rob Houglum ZIPGlassNetwork.com Thursday, May 17, 2012
A court action has been filed by an ex Guardian Auto Glass employee who agreed a non-competition agreement with the company before accepting work with Glass America. Robert Staples signed an "Invention, Disclosure, Confidentiality and Non-Competition Agreement" with Guardian Auto Glass in November of 2010.
According to Staples' petition for declaratory judgment, he "left Guardian Glass as he became more uncomfortable with certain practices of the respondent which he claimed to be immoral and possibly unlawful."
Staples later accepted employment at a Glass America location in Fairfax, Va, which is inside one hundred mile radius of the Guardian location where he was employed. Staples and Glass America received a communication from Guardian's attorney asking for "enforcement of the provisions of the non-competition agreement" and alert of approaching court action in Michigan.
"The desist letter has had an intended chilling effect on the petitioner in the sense that the petitioner does not want to risk a massive damage award for violating the terms of the non-competition agreement and cannot afford to litigate this case in the courts of the state of Michigan, approximately four hundred miles away," reads Staples petition.
Staples says that the agreement prohibited him from work in any capacity with a competitor, even in a position like a cleaner or janitor. He claims that there is no effort to determine whether the proscribed activity is the same sort of work as that done for the previous employer.
Glass America also filed a similar petition backing Staples' claims.
Guardian replied with a motion to dismiss the complaint stating that, "the court should, in the interest of justice, enter an order staying plaintiff's complaint for declaratory relief outstanding the resolution in the parallel legal proceedings before the Michigan federal district court of Mr. Staples' pending motion for a section 1404 ( a ) optional transfer."
Guardian's motion states that Staples filed a court action on the same afternoon as Guardian's suit was filed.
"One such equitable factor that strongly lessens in favour of dismissal of a declaratory action is, where, as here, a petitioner preemptively files for declaratory relief responding to a specific threat of a later-filed state-court action on the merits. Mr. Staples clearly filed the opening action that is now before this court in Virginia Circuit Court on April four, 2012 in an attempt to avoid the appliance of Michigan law, to which he contractually agreed in Nov 2010, after receiving notice that he was about to be sued in Michigan thru Guardian's April 2, 2012 desist letter," reads Guardian's motion.
The Michigan court issued a "show cause order" that ordered Staples to show cause before the court why a preliminary injunction should not be issued against him. Guardian claims that Staples did not show up for that hearing and the court thus entered an injunctive decree against Staples. This decree demands that Staples complies with the prerequisites listed in the non-competitive agreement, which includes returning all documents and private information to Guardian Auto Glass.
Guardian is requesting that the Virginia court dismiss Staples' complaint because the Michigan court already has jurisdiction over the issue.
Tags: Guardian Glass, Glass America