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Leo Sniger v. Cvtech Group

September 26, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge


This case presents the issue of whether an arbitration agreement from an employment contract signed in 2009 survives a subsequent letter agreement signed in October of 2010. Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint and compel arbitration. The Court has considered the parties' submissions, and decides this matter pursuant to New Jersey law. For the reasons expressed below, Defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to the contractual arbitration requirement and compel arbitration is granted.


In July 2009, Defendant, Thirau LLC, purchased the company, Defendant Riggs Distler, which was owned by Plaintiff Leo Sniger. Following the acquisition, Riggs Distler entered into an employment agreement with Plaintiff on or about July 21, 2009. Later, in May 2010, Plaintiff was asked to assume the position of President for Thirau LLC. While serving as both President and CEO of Riggs Distler and President of Thirau, Plaintiff reported to Defendants Andre Laramee and Alain Gagne.

After assuming the responsibilities as President of Thirau LLC in May of 2010, Plaintiff claims that he discovered that Thirau had "inadequate accounting controls, policies, and/or procedures relating to the financial aspects of the company . . . ." (Pl. Amend. Comp. at 5.) Following an independent financial review, Plaintiff alleges that he confirmed that there were numerous errors in billing, which he attempted to communicate to Laramee and Gagne on several occasions. After raising these concerns, however, Plaintiff claims that Defendants Laramee and Gagne became angry and advised Plaintiff that all of his recommendations were being rejected.

Plaintiff further claims that in August or September 2010, Laramee asked him to purchase approximately $3 million of equipment for Riggs Distler. "Reasonably believing that what Defendant Laramee had directed him to do . . . was fraudulent and illegal," Plaintiff refused to participate in the purchase. (Id. at 7.) At an executive meeting on October 7, 2010, Plaintiff claims that he again expressed his belief to Laramee and Gagne that the Defendants were engaging in "fraudulent, deceptive, and illegal activities." (Id. at 8.)

On October 18, 2010, Laramee and Gagne advised Plaintiff that he was being terminated from both Thirau and Riggs Distler "without cause" and "effective immediately." On October 19, 2010, the parties executed a new employment agreement in letter form, which Plaintiff claims effectively withdrew his termination from Riggs Distler only, and served to supersede his original Employment Agreement dated July 21, 2009.*fn1

Plaintiff worked under these terms until January 27, 2011, when he was informed that he would be terminated the following day.

Although it is unclear whether Plaintiff was actually terminated the next day, he continued to work for Defendants until February 1, 2011.

At some point after this, Plaintiff claims that he was informed that Laramee had advised the Defendants' Board of Directors that Plaintiff had been terminated because of his wife's disability, which Plaintiff claims he had disclosed to and discussed with Defendant Laramee in May 2010 through December 2010.*fn2

As a result, Plaintiff filed suit. Plaintiff claims that he was terminated in retaliation for discovering and refusing to participate in Defendants' alleged fraudulent activities, and because his wife's illness would affect his job performance. Plaintiff also claims that Defendants failed to pay him what he was owed under his employment contract. For those alleged violations, Plaintiff has asserted claims under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act ("CEPA"), N.J. Stat. Ann. 34:19-1 et. seq., New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("LAD"), N.J. Stat. Ann. 10:5-1 et. seq., and the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law, N.J. Stat. Ann. 34:11-4.1. (Pl. Am. Comp. at 1.)*fn3 Defendants have filed the present motion to dismiss the complaint and compel arbitration pursuant to the contractual arbitration requirement.



This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 1332 in that the Plaintiff and Defendants are of diverse citizenship and the amount in ...

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