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 an ex Guardian Auto Glass worker who agreed a non-competition agreement with the company before accepting work with Glass America. Robert Staples signed an "Invention, Discovery, 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 uncomfortable with certain practices of the respondent which he believed to be dishonest and probably unlawful."
Staples later accepted work at a Glass America location in Fairfax, Va, which is within a 100 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 legal 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 can't 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 work in any capacity with a competitor, even in a position like a cleaner or janitor. He claims that there's no effort to determine whether the prohibited activity is the same type of work as that done for the previous employer.
Glass America also filed a similar petition backing Staples' claims.
Guardian answered with a motion to dismiss the complaint saying 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 Fed district court of Mr. Staples' outstanding motion for a section 1404 ( a ) discretionary transfer."
Guardian's motion states that Staples filed a legal action on the same afternoon as Guardian's suit was filed.
"One such equitable factor that strongly mitigates in favour of dismissal of a declaratory action is, where, as here, a petitioner preemptively files for declaratory relief in response to a specific threat of a later-filed state-court action on the merits. Mr. Staples obviously filed the opening action that's now before this court in Virginia Circuit Court on April 4, 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 going to be sued in Michigan through Guardian's April 2, 2012 cease and refrain letter," reads Guardian's motion.
The Michigan court issued a "show cause order" that ordered Staples to show cause before the court why an initial injunction shouldn't be issued against him. Guardian claims that Staples didn't show up for that hearing and the court so entered an injunctive decree against Staples. This decree requires that Staples complies with the prerequisites listed in the non-competitive agreement, which includes returning all documents and confidential info 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