Glass America and Guardian Auto Glass in Legal Battle Over Non-Competition Agreement
Rob Houglum ZIPGlassNetwork.com Thursday, May 17, 2012
A legal action has been filed by a one-time Guardian Auto Glass worker 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 because he became increasingly uncomfortable with certain practices of the respondent which he claimed to be dishonest and probably unlawful."
Staples later accepted work at a Glass America location in Fairfax, Va, which is within one hundred mile radius of the Guardian location where he was employed. Staples and Glass America got a letter from Guardian's attorney requesting "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 that the petitioner does not want to risk a huge damage award for violating the terms and conditions 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 the agreement forbidden him from employment in any capacity with a rival, even in a position like a cleaner or janitor. He claims that there is no effort to determine whether the prohibited activity is the same sort of work as that done for the previous employer.
Glass America also filed a corresponding petition backing Staples' claims.
Guardian responded with a motion to dismiss the complaint stating that, "the court should, in the interests of justice, enter an order staying plaintiff's complaint for declaratory relief outstanding the resolution in the parallel legal action before the Michigan Fed district court of Mr. Staples' pending motion for a section 1404 ( a ) optional transfer."
Guardian's motion states that Staples filed a lawsuit on the same afternoon as Guardian's suit was filed.
"One such equitable factor that strongly mitigates in favor of dismissal of a declaratory action is, where, as here, a petitioner preemptively files for declaratory relief responding to a particular threat of a later-filed state-court action on the merits. Mr. Staples clearly filed the initial action that's now before this court in Virginia Circuit Court on April 4, 2012 in an effort to avoid the application of Michigan law, to which he contractually concluded in November 2010, after receiving notice that he was about to be sued in Michigan thru Guardian's April two, 2012 cease and desist letter," reads Guardian's motion.
The Michigan court issued a "show cause order" that ordered Staples to show cause before the court as to why a preliminary injunction shouldn't be issued against him. Guardian claims that Staples did not show up for that hearing and the court therefore entered an injunctive decree against Staples. This decree requires that Staples complies with the requirements listed in the non-competitive agreement, which includes returning all documents and secret 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