Coin company says former employee violated non-compete agreement

Kelly Holleran Jan. 25, 2011, 8:34am

A rare coin and metal business claims one of its salesmen has violated a non-compete agreement and owes it more than $25,000.

Carl Wright Enterprises filed a lawsuit against John Whitted on Jan. 18 in Jefferson County District Court.

Carl Wright Enterprises claims Whitted worked as a salesman for its gold, silver, rare coin and platinum business known as International Precious Metals. All salespeople who work for the company, including Whitted, sign an employee contract, which prohibits unauthorized release of trade secrets and confidential information and restricts the ability of the employee to accept a job at a competing business, according to the complaint.

After Whitted left his employment with Carl Wright Enterprises in May 2010, he accepted a job with a competing company, in violation of the employee contract, the suit states.

In addition, at the time of his departure, Whitted owed Carl Wright Enterprises $29,183.40 for the repayment of a commission he was given, the complaint says.

Carl Wright Enterprises claims it revoked Whitted's commission because the customer returned the sale, and Carl Wright Enterprises refunded the money to its customer.

Initially, Whitted was given a commission of $50,396.71. After the return, Whitted repaid all but the $29,183.40, according to the complaint.

"He pleaded with Plaintiff to permit him to pay off the remaining debt in 12 installments, beginning in June of 2010, and Plaintiff agreed to this arrangement; however, possibly for the purpose of evading his debt, he left the employment situation suddenly, the month before the agreed-upon repayments were supposed to begin," the suit states. "Defendant has paid nothing on the debt since that time."

Carl Wright Enterprises alleges breach of contract against Whitted or, in the alternative, unjust enrichment.

"Plaintiff is faced with the prospect of its former employee, in possession of its customer lists and other trade secrets, working for a competitive enterprise in a manner which blatantly violates the Contract," the complaint says. "Plaintiff has no way to know how much business it has lost, or is going to lose, on account of Defendant's contractual breach, because it is impossible to know how much business Plaintiff did not get on account thereof."

In addition to the money it says Whitted owes it, Carl Wright Enterprises seeks a temporary injunction restraining Whitted from working for its competitors, an order permanently enjoining Whitted from accepting employment from any of Carl Wright Enterprises' competitors and other relief the court deems just.

Michael J. Lindsay of Lindsay Law Firm in Beaumont will be representing it.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. B189-185

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