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Camden Vicinage Trico Equipment, Inc v. William Manor

February 22, 2011

CAMDEN VICINAGE TRICO EQUIPMENT, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
WILLIAM MANOR, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kugler, United States District Judge:

NOT FOR PUBLICATION (Docket No. 86)

OPINION

This matter arises out of the alleged breach of a covenant not to compete. Presently before the Court is the unopposed Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiff Trico Equipment, Inc. ("Trico"). For the reasons discussed below, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

The Court previously reviewed this case's background, so only a brief factual update is required. See Trico Equipment, Inc. v. Manor, No. 08-5561, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50524, at *3-*6 (D.N.J. June 15, 2009). After Manor discontinued his employment with Trico, he accepted a position with Skyworks -- a Trico competitor. (Doc. No. 41 ¶ 26). During the interview process with Skyworks, Manor informed the owner of Skyworks that he signed a covenant not to compete with Trico that prohibited him from working in the geographic area he covered while employed with Trico. Although Manor informed Skyworks of his contract with Trico, Skyworks assigned him to work in the area he covered while employed with Trico.

Skyworks paid Manor an annual salary of $75,000.00. (Id. ¶ 33).

During his employment with Skyworks, Manor called upon numerous Trico customers. (Doc. No. 41 ¶31). Manor knew that calling on Trico customers would create an issue with Trico because of his covenant not to compete with Trico. Id. Moreover, Manor admitted that but for the preliminary injunction issued by this Court on June 15, 2009, he would have continued to solicit business from Trico customers. (Pl.'s Br. Ex. 2, at 69, 79). Manor also shared some of Trico's confidential customer information with Skyworks, including Trico's strategies for managing customer relationships. (Pl.'s Br. Ex. 2, at 102).

During the year after Manor resigned from Trico and commenced employment with Skyworks, Trico experienced a total of $1,118,000.00 in lost profits from several customers in the area previously serviced by Manor. (Pustizzi Decl. ¶¶ 3, 6). Trico claims that this decline is attributable to Manor's work for Skyworks in the area for which he was responsible during his employment with Trico. (Id. ¶ 4). Trico computed lost profits based upon the lost revenue from rentals in Manor's territory less the overhead of maintaining, servicing and/or transporting equipment to each customer's site. (Id.). Trico claims that it had the equipment in its inventory necessary to equip any customer in Manor's territory during this period. (Id. ¶ 7).

On June 15, 2009, this Court entered an injunction against Manor. (Doc. No. 42). Shortly thereafter, Skyworks terminated Manor's employment. (Pustizzi Decl. ¶ 9). After Manor's termination, Trico has steadily recovered customers that departed from Skyworks because of Mr. Manor's actions. (Id. ¶ 10).

As a result of this litigation, Trico incurred legal fees and expenses in the amount of $184,857.46.

II. STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate where the Court is satisfied that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists only if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). When the Court weighs the evidence presented by the parties, "[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Id. at 255.

The burden of establishing the nonexistence of a "genuine issue" is on the party moving for summary judgment. Aman v. Cort Furniture Rental Corp., 85 F.3d 1074, 1080 (3d Cir. 1996). The moving party may satisfy its burden either by "produc[ing] evidence showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact" or by "'showing' -- that is, pointing out to the district court -- that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325.

Once the moving party satisfies this initial burden, the nonmoving party must "set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). To do so, the nonmoving party must "do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushida Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, to survive summary judgment, the nonmoving party must "make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of [every] element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. Furthermore, "[w]hen opposing summary judgment, the non-movant may not rest upon mere allegations, but rather must 'identify those facts of record which would contradict the facts identified by the movant.'" Corliss v. Varner, 247 F. App'x 353, 354 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Port Auth. of N.Y. & N.J. v. Affiliated FM Ins. Co., 311 F.3d 226, 233 (3d Cir. 2002)).

In deciding the merits of a party's motion for summary judgment, the court's role is not to evaluate the evidence and decide the truth of the matter, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. Credibility determinations are the province of the factfinder, not the district court. BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am., Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992).*fn1

II. DISCUSSION

A.Trico's Breach of Contract Claims

In the Complaint,Trico brought a breach-of-contract claim against Manor. On November 13, 2009, Trico filed its Amended Complaint. The Amended Complaint alleges that Manor breached the Employment Agreement by: (1) working for a direct competitor during the two-year period following his employment with Trico; (2) soliciting customers in his territory on behalf of a competitor for a period of two years following his separation from Trico; and (3) improperly using Trico's confidential customer information. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 94-97, 98-104, 105-110).

A breach-of-contract claim under New Jersey law requires proof of three elements: "a valid contract, defective performance by the defendant, and resulting damages." Coyle v. Englander's, 488 A.2d 1083, 1088 (N.J. Sup. Ct. App. Div. 1985). The oft-repeated elements of a basic contract are offer, acceptance, ...


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