A court action has been filed by an ex Guardian Auto Glass employee who signed a non-competition agreement with the company before accepting work with Glass America. Robert Staples signed an "Invention, Disclosure, 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 unethical and doubtless 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 communication from Guardian's attorney requesting "enforcement of the provisions of the non-competition agreement" and warning of impending court action in Michigan.
"The cease and desist letter has had an intended chilling effect on the petitioner in the sense that the petitioner does not want 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, approximately 400 miles away," reads Staples petition.
Staples says that the agreement prohibited him from employment in any capacity with a rival, even in a position like a cleaner or janitor. He claims that there's no effort to determine whether the proscribed activity is the same sort of work as that done for the previous employer.
Glass America also filed a corresponding petition backing Staples' claims.
Guardian replied 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 outstanding the resolution in the parallel litigation before the Michigan Fed. 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 lessens in favour of dismissal of a declaratory action is, where, as here, a petitioner preemptively files for declaratory relief in response to a particular 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 four, 2012 in an effort 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 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 an initial injunction should not be issued against him. Guardian claims that Staples did not show up for that hearing and the court so 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 secret information 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