A federal judge has ruled quickly on a lawsuit filed by Southeast Publications Inc. against Texas Advertising Inc., its affiliate AGS and company president, Brian Schaeffer.
In the suit filed Oct. 10 in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Southeast Publications claimed the defendants stole Southeast’s trade secrets. Southeast sought an injunction against Texas Advertising and damages in excess of $75,000.
On Tuesday (Oct. 30) Judge William J. Zloch dismissed the case.
Schaeffer told Woodall’s Campground Management, “The allegation is interesting since our competitors have consistently mimicked our products. We have done absolutely nothing wrong and will vigorously defend that position. AGS has always set the bar high in terms of products and service. We have ramped up our marketing effort and provide a pretty robust group of services. We’ve had dozens and dozen of parks that switched over to AGS. That has bothered my competitor. Although they have threatened many parks over switching companies, we feel parks have the ultimate right to decide who they do business with. Rather than compete for their business, Southeast has chosen the courts. It is unfortunate.”
Southeast, based in Tamarac, Fla., and AGS, based in Crowley, Texas, are competitors, both engaged in the business of providing printed informational materials for guests for RV parks and campgrounds and selling advertising to be included in the printed materials.
Schaeffer was formerly employed by Southeast as a sales representative from 1994 through Oct. 25, 1998.
According to the suit, “AGS, through the direction and control of Schaeffer, has contacted a number of members of Southeast’s sales force in an attempt to lure them away from Southeast and to AGS so as to irreparably harm Southeast’s goodwill.”
Those lured away include Jerry Hopkins, who until recently was employed by Southeast as a district manager.
In addition, the suit claimed, AGS, through Schaeffer, sent the members of Southeast’s sales force via e-mail a solicitation stating in part, “You get $500 for serving any establishment that was a competitor’s client the year before.”
AGS and Schaeffer were able to contact each member of Southeast’s sales force because AGS and Schaeffer had a list containing the names and contact information of dozens of members of Southeast’s sales force, the suit contends.
Southeast maintained the list is proprietary and, thus, a trade secret protected by Florida statues.