Weight loss center sues former employee for violating non-compete agreement

Kelly Holleran Jan. 5, 2010, 2:00pm


A weight loss center has filed suit against one of its employees, alleging she violated a non-compete clause when she began working for a rival company.

Surgical, Cosmetic and Weight Loss Centers of America , doing business as Weight Loss, Cosmetic and Surgical Centers of America, claims it hired Kathleen Ferry on Jan. 22, 2009.

When she began employment, the center says Ferry signed an agreement to refrain from working for a competing business within a 25-mile radius of the center for at least three years, according to the complaint filed Dec. 22 in Jefferson County District Court.

"Defendant, while working for plaintiff, was provided material, substantive benefits which made defendant as a medical professional more marketable in the field of her expertise," the suit states.

Less than one year after she began working for the center, however, Ferry quit her job on Dec. 18 to accept work at the University of Texas Medical Branch-Center of Weight Management, the complaint says.

Weight Loss, Cosmetic and Surgical Centers claims Ferry has breached the agreement because the UTMB Center of Weight Management is less than 25 miles away.

The center seeks a declaratory judgment, plus actual and consequential damages, attorneys' fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.

In addition, it is seeking a permanent injunction that will prevent Ferry from violating the agreement.

John S. Morgan of Harris, Duesler and Hatfield in Beaumont will be representing the plaintiff.

The case has been assigned to Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: D185-529.

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