A home health care agency claims it lost business after one of its clients directly hired one of its employees, then encouraged others to do the same.

Accent Home Health filed a lawsuit July 2 in Jefferson County District Court against Dorothy Stewart and Clifford D. Hughes.

According to the complaint, Hughes hired Accent to care for his mother, Stewart, at her home.

In keeping with its agreement, Accent hired Louise Kenner on Aug. 21, 2009, to care for Stewart, according to the complaint.

After caring for Stewart for three days, Kenner provided Accent with her resignation, the suit states. At the same time, Hughes canceled his mother's services, the complaint says.

"Accent Home Health subsequently determined from other clients, who were neighbors of Defendant Hughes, that Defendant Hughes hired Kenner directly to provide caregiver services for Defendant Stewart," the suit states. "Accent Home Health also learned that Defendant Hughes was telling the neighbors/clients, what he had done and that they should do the same thing."

Accent Home Health claims that at the time Hughes terminated his services with Accent, he owed $356.50. In addition, because he failed to provide Accent with a 60-day notice of his intention to cancel its services, Hughes owes the company 15 percent of its annualized billing rate, or $4,836, according to the complaint.

Despite sending invoices to Hughes, Accent has received no payments, the suit states.

Accent alleges breach of contract and tortious interference with existing contract against the defendants.

In its four-count complaint, Accent is seeking actual and exemplary damages, plus pre- and post-judgment interest, costs, attorney's fees and other relief to which it may be entitled.

Greg M. Dykeman and Martha R. Campbell of Strong, Pipkin, Bissell and Ledyard in Beaumont will be representing it.

The case has been assigned to Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: A187-209.

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