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 employee who confirmed a non-competition agreement with the company before accepting employment with Glass America. Robert Staples signed an "Invention, Discovery, Confidentiality and Non-Competition Agreement" with Guardian Auto Glass in Nov of 2010.
According to Staples' petition for declaratory judgment, he "left Guardian Glass as he became uncomfortable with certain practices of the respondent which he said to be dishonest and probably unlawful."
Staples later accepted work at a Glass America location in Fairfax, Va, which is within a hundred mile radius of the Guardian location where he was employed. Staples and Glass America received a letter from Guardian's solicitor requesting "enforcement of the provisions of the non-competition agreement" and alert of impending legal action in Michigan.
"The cease and refrain 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 details 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 claims 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 ascertain whether the forbidden activity is the same type of work as that done for the previous employer.
Glass America also filed an identical petition backing Staples' claims.
Guardian answered 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 pending the resolution in the parallel legal proceedings before the Michigan Fed district court of Mr. Staples' outstanding 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 favour of dismissal of a declaratory action is, where, as here, a petitioner preemptively files for declaratory relief replying to a specific threat of a later-filed state-court action on the merits. Mr. Staples clearly filed the primary action that's now before this court in Virginia Circuit Court on April 4, 2012 in an effort 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 through Guardian's April two, 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 the reasons why an initial injunction shouldn't be issued against him. Guardian claims that Staples didn't 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