A confidential agreement ends a 16-month-long case involving a non-compete clause between Acuity Brands Lighting and a former sales manager and the lighting rep firm that hired him in 2021.
In a letter dated March 14, Andrew Cole, an attorney for Acuity, wrote a letter to the judge hearing the case stating, “On behalf of the parties, I am pleased to report that an agreement in principle has been reached to settle the above-captioned matter. Once certain conditions of the agreement are met, we will file a stipulation of dismissal with prejudice, which we anticipate will be filed by mid- April.”
Acuity filed a civil suit back in November of 2021 claiming Timothy Smitreski worked for Acuity for 13 years, and signed a non-compete clause that would not allow him to “directly or indirectly, engage in, provide, or perform any Employee Services on behalf of any person or entity . . . in the Territory that derives revenue from providing goods or services substantially similar to those which comprise the Company’s (Acuity) Business.” for a period of two years. Acuity’s civil lawsuit also says the non-compete clause required Smitreski to return “all files, customer lists, management reports, memoranda, research, Company forms, financial data and reports and other documents (including all such data and documents in electronic form) of the Company, supplied to or created by him/her in connection with his/her employment hereunder (including all copies of the foregoing) in his/her possession or control, and all of the Company’s equipment and other materials in his/her possession or control. Grantee further agrees and covenants not to retain any such property and to permanently delete such information residing in electronic format to the best of his/her ability and not to attempt to retrieve it.”
Acuity claimed it “employed, trained, and generously paid Smitreski to work as a high- level sales executive (Regional Sales Manager) in the commercial and residential lighting industry” while training him in “controls” (technology behind lighting) and helped him become an expert so that he could teach sales agency employees about controls and explain the controls to customers.” Acuity also claimed in the lawsuit that Smitreski was involved in high-level strategy meetings while working for the company.
Smitreski left Acuity to join Diversified, Inc, which is based in New Jersey, as a Vice-President. Diversified sells products from companies that Acuity describes as competitors, including Hubbell, Leviton, and Williams. The lawsuit claimed Smitreski:
- Told an I2 sales representative that he fully expected Acuity to sue him for breaching his non-compete because he joined the DLA Defendants, as they directly compete with Acuity.
- Sent 5 emails (with a “contact cards” subject line) to his personal email account attaching customer contact information to which he had access over 13 years with Acuity that contained approximately 355 customer contacts.
- Transferred Acuity’s confidential information and trade secrets to a USB device.
Acuity lawsuit says it contacted Diversified and Smitreski with a cease and desist letter, but never received a response.
The lawsuit resulted in 73 court filings over the 16 months, including requests for change of venue and whether the non-compete clause signed in Georgia is valid in New Jersey, and a number of motions to dismiss.