Unfair Competition, Breach of Contract Charges Fuel Tree Service Litigation

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Sep. 13, 2010 12:00 am  

Giraffe Tree Service Inc. of Little Rock, owned by Dean Goodson, filed an injunction in late August in Pulaski County Circuit Court against two of its former employees and the new competitor for whom they work.

According to Goodson's complaint, the two employees - Janine Murphree and Franklin "Stacy" Tyre - signed employee non-competition and confidentiality agreements in April 2009. Under the agreements, Murphree and Tyre agreed they would not compete indirectly or directly with Giraffe for two years after the end of their employment with the company.

But according to the complaint, Murphree, who left Giraffe on May 30, 2009, and Tyre, who left Feb. 22, are now working for Savior Tree Service LLC. According to filings with the Arkansas Secretary of State, Savior was started March 22 by Frank James, who is also named as a defendant.

The complaint alleges that Murphree kept an external hard drive and a Dell laptop that belong to Giraffe and contain confidential and proprietary information. It further alleges that James had full knowledge of the non-compete agreements Murphree and Tyre signed, and that he also knew the computer and hard drive were unlawfully taken from Giraffe.

According to the complaint, "All of the defendants knowingly, willfully and tortuously interfered with the contractual and business relationships between Giraffe and its clients."

They also have contacted other Giraffe employees, trying to persuade them to break with the company, and have approached Giraffe's existing customers to the same end, according to the complaint.



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