Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Strategic Marketing Services, LLC v. Skelton

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

May 19, 2017

STRATEGIC MARKETING SERVICES, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
DANIEL SKELTON, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Thomas R Russell, United States District Court Senior Judge

         Strategic Marketing Services, LLC filed this action against Daniel Skelton, a former employee, bringing a host of claims arising from an employment agreement between them. Previously, it sought a temporary restraining order to enforce noncompetition, nonsolicitation, nondisclosure, and nonrecruitment clauses in that agreement. After hearing argument from both sides, the Court issued that order. Now, Strategic Marketing Services, LLC asks for a preliminary injunction to the same effect. Having considered the record before it, the balance of equities weighs in favor of preliminary injunctive relief. Accordingly, Strategic Marketing Services, LLC's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, [R. 11], is GRANTED.

         I.

         A.

         The Court makes the following findings of fact. Strategic Marketing Services, LLC is a participant in a niche industry dedicated to providing direct-mail marketing services to automobile dealerships nationwide. In a nutshell, Strategic Marketing Services, LLC analyzes certain information to locate potential automobile purchasers and then attempts to connect those persons to dealerships through targeted mailings. It uses a purpose-built customer management system, known as COSMIC, to assist in nearly every aspect of carrying on its business. Much of the information accessible through COSMIC (e.g., client lists, pricing information, and results from prior advertising campaigns) is proprietary. To protect that confidential information, all prospective employees of Strategic Marketing Services, LLC must agree to take on certain contractual obligations.

         Daniel Skelton was no exception. Strategic Marketing Services, LLC hired him as a divisional Vice President of Sales in February 2015. Prior to accepting that position, Skelton signed an employment agreement. [R. 1-1 (Employment Agreement).] The agreement prohibited him from disclosing confidential information, [id. at 6, ¶ 12(B)], and, for a period of two years after separation, from soliciting Strategic Marketing Services, LLC's customers, [id. at 6-7, ¶ 14], recruiting its personnel, [id. at 7, ¶ 15], and competing with it, [id. at 7-8, ¶ 17(A)].

         Skelton remained in Strategic Marketing Services, LLC's employ for a year or so. During his time with Strategic Marketing Services, LLC, Skelton oversaw salespersons in a number of states, including California, Arkansas, and Florida. He also had access to Strategic Marketing Services, LLC's proprietary information through COSMIC. Ultimately, things between Strategic Marketing Services, LLC and Skelton did not work out, and Strategic Marketing Services, LLC terminated his employment in November 2016.

         A few months later, Strategic Marketing Services, LLC began to suspect that Skelton might be violating certain clauses in his employment agreement. The first hint came in the form of an e-mail intended for Skelton from D2MFP, Inc., a client of Strategic Marketing Services, LLC. [R. 1-3 at 2 (E-mail of February 21, 2017).] The content of the e-mail itself is cryptic. However, John Lesch, the Vice President of Sales for Strategic Marketing Services, LLC, explained that, in his experience, the context of the message indicated that Skelton was trying to conduct a direct-mail campaign for D2MFP, Inc.

         The second clue came from Nicole Miranda, a saleswoman whom Skelton supervised while employed with Strategic Marketing Services, LLC. She told Todd Strause, the President of Strategic Marketing Services, LLC, that Skelton had tried to solicit her to come work with him. However, she declined his offer.

         The third and final breadcrumb came from Grady Nutt, who is a salesman with Strategic Marketing Services, LLC. Nutt recounted a conversation between himself and Drew Dees of Crain Automotive, also a client of Strategic Marketing Services, LLC. Nutt claims that, after a meeting at Crain Automotive's headquarters, Dees told him that Skelton had e-mailed him to offer a new product at a special price. Dees indicated that the e-mail came from a domain belonging to Sales 360 LLC, which is one of Strategic Marketing Services, LLC's competitors in the direct-mail marketing industry.[1]

         B.

         On April 12, 2017, Strategic Marketing Services, LLC filed this action against Skelton, bringing a host of claims related to Skelton's alleged breach of his employment agreement. [R. 1 at 7-13, ¶¶ 27-69 (Complaint).] That same day, Strategic Marketing Services, LLC sought a temporary restraining order to enforce the noncompetition, nonsolicitation, nondisclosure, and nonrecruitment clauses in that agreement. [R. 4 (Motion for Temporary Restraining Order).] After hearing argument from both sides, the Court granted that request on April 25, 2017. [R. 9 (Order of April 25, 2017).]

         Two weeks later, Strategic Marketing Services, LLC moved for a preliminary injunction more or less identical to the temporary restraining order. [R. 11 (Motion for Preliminary Injunction).] During the course of a telephonic scheduling conference on that motion, Skelton expressed concern that the Court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over this action. [R. 12 at 1 (Order of May 8, 2017).] The Court consolidated both issues and held a hearing on May 16.

         II.

         A.

         Of the two kinds of original jurisdiction, see 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331-1332, this case concerns the one labeled “diversity.” The Court exercises such jurisdiction in “all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between” parties who are “citizens of different States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). If a ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.