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I was a mobile pet groomer for over 2 years with what ...

I was a mobile pet...
I was a mobile pet groomer for over 2 years with what I''ll call "Company A". During that time, I had a no-compete contract. I built and maintained relationships with many customers. I would talk, e-mail and otherwise communicate with many of my clients outside of work. Company A sold the assets of the business to what I will call "Company B". I worked for Company B for approximately 2 months before I came upon a windfall and was able to purchase the necessary equipment to go into business for myself. I never signed a single contract or any other document with Company B, and Company A signed a termination of no-compete contract that fully released me to service anyone I chose. I e-mailed and called only my favorite customers - those that I had built relationships with - and informed them I was in business for myself. NEVER slandered Company B. Now I am being sued for "tortious interference and use of trade secrets." Do they really have a case? I don''t see what I did wrong???
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Answered in 22 minutes by:
7/3/2008
Jane Doe Deer
Jane Doe Deer, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 3,896
Experience: Atty since 1986. Real estate, tax, and other business law questions
Verified
Thank you for contacting Just Answer. I am looking forward to assisting you.

While we write back and forth, please keep in mind that I do not know what you already know or don't know, or with what you need help, unless you tell me.

There can also be a delay of an hour or more in between my answers because I may be helping other customers or taking a break.

Can you please tell me what city and state or province is involved in your question? I cannot see it on my screen right now.

Is there more background that you can give me?

Do you have an attorney? Have you submitted an Answer to the Complaint yet?

It's possible that they're just trying to scare you off. Do you know if company B used an attorney to write the complaint?

I'll look forward to hearing from you,

Jane

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Customer reply replied 9 years ago
I do not currently have an attorney. I am in Fort Worth, Texas. I have not submitted an answer yet. The man suing me used one attorney (Byron Hammer) to send me a letter threatening to sue me, then used a completely different firm (Tom Fleischer) to serve me the papers for the lawsuit. As for more background, the plaintiff (my former employer) has told mutual acquaintences that he knows he will never get these customers back but he can try to put me out of business my suing me and burying me financially in legal fees. I am still in contact with the original company that sold the business to him. I have many customers that are willing to write letters stating that they fired Company B. Everyone is telling me I shouldn't worry but one attorney has told me that I may have to stop servicing any customers that he "purchased" in the acquisition of Company A. However, as I said, I have built relationships with these people and over 90% of my current business is with customers that chose to use my service. He is accusing me of having HIS customer's information and that by using their phone numbers and e-mail, that violates a trade secret law. He says even if I don't have his exact customer database, by using the contact list that I personally have created over the past 2 years (since employment with Company A) that I am using trade secrets and proprietary information to tortiously interfere with his business. All I ever did was let my favorite customers know (the ones I had personal relationships with) that I had gone into business for myself. I never said anything bad about his business. I thought it was the customer's right to choose what service they wanted to use? I need to find out if I have done anything wrong and whether he is justified in this suit. He tried to file a temporary restraining order against me to stop servicing any customers of "his" but I haven't heard anything about it except his threat to file one.

This is nasty business. You need a good defense attorney.

Writing an Answer is pretty easy, because it's mostly responding paragraph by paragraph with "deny" or "agree", etc.

I suggest that you go to a large defense law firm in Fort Worth and at the very minimum, pay for a 1/2 hour to one hour consultation with a defense attorney.

If you pick a large firm that may intimidate the other side, plus it may actually cost you less in the long run.

Oh, before you do that, please check with your business insurance agent. It's possible that your insurance will cover this and give you a free defense attorney!

You can also look at this self-help site, but I don't think there's anything here to really help you.

 

I'd be happy to respond if you have follow-up questions. If not, please click ACCEPT or I will not get paid for helping you.

We can still write after you pay. Feedback and Bonuses are gratefully appreciated.

The information provided is general in nature only and should not be construed as legal advice. By using Just Answer, you acknowledge that no attorney-client relationship has been created between you and me or my law firm. Our conversation may show up on an Internet search. Contact the moderator or me to make sure personal information is removed if that is a concern.

Jane Doe Deer

PS The case against you sounds like BS.

Jane Doe Deer
Jane Doe Deer, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 3,896
Experience: Atty since 1986. Real estate, tax, and other business law questions
Verified
Jane Doe Deer and 87 other Business Law Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 9 years ago
So have I done anything legally wrong? My biggest problem is that I cannot afford an attorney!

It doesn't sound to me like you've done anything wrong. You're just being too successful!

Maybe you can find an attorney who has pets who needs grooming.

Or, you may want to think of this as you can't afford NOT to hire an attorney.

Please consider my suggestion of paying for a consultation. You can get a LOT out of that. I did that once myself!

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Customer reply replied 9 years ago
So by using my personal contact list that I developed over 2 years with the previous company, that doesn't classify as using trade secrets or proprietary information or tortious interference?

You originally told me that you did not have a non-compete with either company, but that you also got a full release from Company A.

That doesn't mean you can ignore this, but I think you have a strong defense.

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Customer reply replied 9 years ago
No I DID have a non-compete with the first company, but they released me when they sold.

Sorry, I misread. But you got the release from the first company and never had one with the second, right?

And I can't imagine that there are trade secrets and proprietory information in the dog grooming world (these laws were developed for things like chemistry, drugs, computers, etc). That leaves tortious interference, and it doesn't sound like that's going on either. Here's a definition:

http://www.nolo.com/definition.cfm/Term/333C440A-AF22-4562-A9B2AD35CF4F57C7/alpha/T/

 

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Jane Doe Deer
Jane Doe Deer
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Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 3,896
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Experience: Atty since 1986. Real estate, tax, and other business law questions

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