Synthes USA files breach of contract claim against former sales rep for converting customers
A suburban Philadelphia manufacturer of medical devices has filed a civil action against a former employee that claims the man violated his contract with the plaintiff when he allegedly converted customers who formerly did business with the plaintiff to the new company at which the defendant was hired following his departure from his former company. Attorneys for Synthes USA Sales LLC, which is based in West Chester, Pa., filed suit Jan. 16 at the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia against Springdale, Ark. resident Bryan Bair. Bair, the lawsuit states, served as a sales consultant at the plaintiff’s Northwest Arkansas division where he was tasked with selling Synthes’ products to various healthcare providers, including large hospitals. Bair did so by “maintaining and establishing relationships with key physicians and hospital personnel who play a role in determining which implants and instrumentation are used in surgeries,” the complaint reads. Synthes is a worldwide leader in the design, manufacture and sale of medical devices, including instruments and implants used in orthopedic, spine and other surgeries. Bair had resigned from his position with Synthes on Sept. 30, 2012, effective immediately, the suit states, in order to take a similar position with Versa Med LLC, a distribution company that sells Synthes’ competitors’ products. While employed at Synthes, Bair was made to sign a confidentiality, non-solicitation and non-competition agreement, which prohibited Bair, both during his employment with Synthes and for a one-year period following his departure, from competing with Synthes in the territory to which he had been assigned by Synthes, and from soliciting Synthes’ customers, among other things, according to the complaint. Bair, however, did not abide by that agreement, the plaintiff contends. “Based on information and belief, and despite his obligations under the Non-Competition Agreement, Bair immediately began to compete with Synthes and started converting business from Synthes in his former territory within the first week after he resigned from the company,” the lawsuit reads. “More recently, Synthes learned that Bair has subsequently converted the business of three major surgeons in his former territory from Synthes to competitor companies.” The plaintiff claims that as a result of Bair’s conduct, the company has suffered a “substantial, adverse business impact, irreparable harms, lost customer relationships, goodwill in the marketplace and significant financial damage.” Bair, the complaint shows, had worked as a sales consultant for Synthes from March 25, 1999 to Oct. 31, 2006, and then re-commenced his employment with the plaintiff as a sales consultant in Synthes’ Spine Division back in mid-November 2011. Before re-hiring Bair in late 2011, Synthes learned that Bair was subject to a non-competition agreement with his former employer, the suit states, and so the plaintiff assigned Bair to a sales territory that would allow the defendant to honor that agreement. It was that same type of agreement with Synthes that Bair is accused of violating in the present litigation. The complaint contains counts of breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract. Synthes seeks injunctive relief prohibiting Bair from continuing to violate the non-competition agreement with the plaintiff. The company also seeks actual, incidental and consequential damages, attorney’s fees and other court relief. The plaintiff is being represented by attorneys Anthony B. Haller and Michael P. Broadhurst of the Philadelphia firm Blank Rome LLP. The federal case number is 2:13-cv-00267-CDJ.