Auto dealer alleges former worker took other workers when he left

Kelly Holleran Nov. 10, 2014, 11:09am

An automotive company alleges a former employee lured other employees away from the company when he left his job.

Sonic Automotive and Philpott Motors filed a lawsuit Sept. 16 in Jefferson County District Court against Kevin McCabe, Southeast Texas Classic Automotive, Twin City Motors and Twin City Honda, Twin City Classic Automotive, The Beaumont Company, Beaumont Motor Company, Classic Chevrolet Cadillac, Class Buick, GMC, Classic Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, GMC, Classic Southeast Texas, Beaumont Direct and Classic Southeast Texas.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege McCabe was working for Philpott Motors for more than 20 years when he was invited to attend a Leadership Academy Program in 2011. The program, which is designed to teach top-level employees of Sonic and its affiliates valuable skills to enhance their ability to perform in the automotive industry, costs Sonic about $30,000 per employee, according to the complaint.

In turn for attending the program, McCabe was required to agree to refrain from hiring or employing any Sonic employees for a period of two years following voluntary termination of employment, the suit states.

McCabe quit his work with Philpott Motors on April 22, and went to work for Classic Chevrolet, the complaint says. Since then, McCabe has hired at least seven former Philpott Motors employees to work for him, the company alleges.

The plaintiffs allege breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duties, tortious interference with employee relationships and tortious interference with existing contract.

The plaintiffs seek actual and exemplary damages, plus a disgorging of any unjust enrichment. They also ask the court to permanently prohibit the defendant from hiring any more employees and seek other relief the court deems just.

Attorneys Donald W. Gould II, Charles Patrick Waites and Elise Miller of Johnson, DeLuca, Kurisky and Gould, in Houston, will represent the plaintiffs.

Jefferson County District Court case number: D196-121

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