Glass America and Guardian Auto Glass in Legal Battle Over Non-Competition Agreement
May 16, 2012

by Katie O'Mara,

A lawsuit has been filed by a former Guardian Auto Glass employee who signed a non-competition agreement with the company before accepting employment 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 believed to be unethical and possibly unlawful.”

Staples later accepted employment 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 received a letter from Guardian’s attorney requesting “enforcement of the provisions of the non-competition agreement” and warning of impending legal action in Michigan.

“The cease and desist letter has had an intended chilling effect on the petitioner in that the petitioner does not wish to risk a large 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, roughly 400 miles away,” reads Staples petition.

Staples says that the agreement prohibited him from employment 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 prohibited activity is the same type of work as that done for the former employer.

Glass America also filed a similar petition backing Staples’ claims.

Guardian responded 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 pending the resolution in the parallel litigation before the Michigan federal district court of Mr. Staples’ pending motion for a section 1404 (a) discretionary 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 in response to a specific threat of a later-filed state-court action on the merits. Mr. Staples clearly filed the initial action that is now before this court in Virginia Circuit Court on April 4, 2012 in an attempt to avoid the application of Michigan law, to which he contractually agreed in November 2010, after receiving notice that he was about to be sued in Michigan through Guardian’s April 2, 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 should not 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 confidential 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.

This story is an original story by AGRR™ magazine/™. Subscribe to AGRR™ Magazine.
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