The client had purchased a small accounting firm from a gentleman who claimed he was leaving South Florida and moving to Central Florida. The seller entered into a non-compete agreement, restricting his involvement in another accounting business to an area outside a 100-mile radius of his former business location.
A few months after the sale was completed, the client noticed that several of the customers that he had acquired from the seller were no longer coming to him. He called one of the customers with whom he had established a friendly relationship, and a short, uncomfortable conversation ensued. The client suspected that his customer was now seeing the seller at his new location, which the client believed was not in Central Florida, but still in the area.
Our investigation developed information that the seller had not, in fact, sold his home in South Florida, but had merely opened a tax preparation business in a community about thirty miles away. An investigator traveled to the location, which was in a building comprised of executive suites. There was a directory in the building with the seller’s company name, but the name was non-descript and made no reference to tax preparation or bookkeeping and accounting services.
The investigator contacted the office manager of the executive suites and provided her with a business card, stating that he would like to open a “branch office” in the area. The office manager gladly walked the investigator through the complex and showed him the different offices and amenities available. The investigator mentioned that he was looking for someone local to help with his taxes and bookkeeping, and the manager quickly pointed out that she had someone who might be able to help.
The office manager took the investigator into the kitchen and provided him with the seller’s new business card and a brochure, outlining the bookkeeping and accounting services being offered by the seller. The brochure and business card displayed the address of the office complex and the seller’s contact information, which clearly reflected that the location was well within the “restricted geographic area” of the client’s business.
The investigator accepted the brochure and business card, finished the walk-through with the office manager, and returned to his office to prepare the report. He also provided the business card, brochure, and comments by the office manager regarding the seller’s current competing business.
Result: The client’s attorney issued a “cease and desist” letter to the seller, including serious language about an injunction and litigation to enforce the non-compete agreement.
When you suspect that a former (or current) employee may be violating his or her non-compete agreement, call the legal investigators at Complete Legal Investigations, Inc. to discuss your options. We can help you craft a strategy that accomplishes your goal and controls your costs. Call us at 561-687-8381, or visit our website at www.completelegalinv.com.