Company fears losing customers after employee began competing business

Kelly Holleran Mar. 20, 2013, 10:33am

A marine diving company is asking the court for help to prevent it from losing what it claims could be a substantial number of customers after one of its former employees began his own competing business. 

Abyss Diving and Marine Salvage filed a lawsuit March 13 in Jefferson County District Court against Bryan A. Wyble and Poseidon Commercial Diving Services.

In its complaint, Abyss claims Wyble broke the terms of his employment contract when he stole customers and equipment from Abyss to begin his own competing company.

Before the alleged theft, Wyble had been working as manager for Abyss. As part of his job duties, Wyble sent work crews to perform marine diving and repair services for various commercial and industrial clients on the Gulf Coast, according to the complaint.

On Jan. 24, Wyble launched his own enterprise called Poseidon Commercial Diving Services in which he utilized Abyss’s confidential customer information and relationships to convince customers to switch to Poseidon for their needs, the suit states. During his work for Abyss, Wyble was also allowed to keep equipment to help its business expand, the complaint says.

However, Wyble has refused to surrender the equipment, even after his Feb. 4 resignation from Abyss, the company claims.

“It is believed that Wyble is taking calls for Abyss on his cell phone and performing jobs through Poseidon,” the suit states.

Wyble’s actions breach the employment contract he signed with Abyss in which he agreed to refrain from starting his own business that competes directly with Abyss, according to the complaint. He also violated his confidential relationship with Abyss by misappropriating the company’s trade secrets, the suit states. In addition, Abyss contends Wyble is guilty of wrongdoing under the Theft Liability Act because he took the company’s equipment and refuses to return it.

In its complaint, Abyss seeks a temporary restraining order, a temporary injunction and eventually a permanent injunction that would prohibit Wyble from performing any diving or marine services for any of Abyss’s clients. It also seeks unspecified damages, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

Jeffrey T. Roebuck of Roebuck, Thomas, Roebuck and Adams in Beaumont will be representing it.

Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. E194-147

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