Glass America and Guardian Auto Glass in Legal Battle Over Non-Competition Agreement
Rob Houglum ZIPGlassNetwork.com Thursday, May 17, 2012
A lawsuit has been filed by a one-time Guardian Auto Glass employee who signed 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 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 inside a hundred mile radius of the Guardian location where he was employed. Staples and Glass America received a communication from Guardian's attorney asking for "enforcement of the provisions of the non-competition agreement" and caution of imminent court action in Michigan.
"The 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 can't afford to litigate this case in the courts of the state of Michigan, roughly 400 miles away," reads Staples petition.
Staples says the agreement prohibited him from work 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 proscribed activity is the same type of work as that done for the previous employer.
Glass America also filed a corresponding 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 outstanding the resolution in the parallel legal action before the Michigan federal district court of Mr. Staples' outstanding motion for a section 1404 ( a ) optional 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 lessens in favor 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 initial action that is now before this court in Virginia Circuit Court on April four, 2012 in an attempt to avoid the applying of Michigan law, to which he contractually concluded in November 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 why an initial 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 demands 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