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 worker who confirmed a non-competition agreement with the company before accepting work with Glass America. Robert Staples signed an "Invention, Declaration, 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 believed to be dishonest 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 got a letter from Guardian's solicitor asking for "enforcement of the provisions of the non-competition agreement" and alert of approaching action in the courts 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, roughly four hundred miles away," reads Staples petition.
Staples says the agreement restricted 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 former employer.
Glass America also filed an identical petition backing Staples' claims.
Guardian answered with a motion to dismiss the complaint saying that, "the court should, in the interests of justice, enter an order staying plaintiff's complaint for declaratory relief pending the resolution in the parallel litigation 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 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 replying to a particular threat of a later-filed state-court action on the merits. Mr. Staples obviously filed the opening action that is now before this court in Virginia Circuit Court on April four, 2012 in an attempt 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 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 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 thus entered an injunctive decree against Staples. This decree specifies that Staples complies with the requirements listed in the non-competitive agreement, which includes returning all documents and secret info to Guardian Auto Glass.
Guardian is demanding that the Virginia court dismiss Staples' complaint as the Michigan court already has jurisdiction over the issue.
Tags: Guardian Glass, Glass America