CHARLESTON – A company that specializes in finding abandoned gas wells and excavation says another company it hired to market their services ended up defaming them to customers and stole their business.

Top Dog Well Search Services and Rondle L. McCumbers filed a lawsuit March 31 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Environmental Regulatory Service Group, Fred Boggs, Eric Williams and Leonard Womble.

The plaintiffs say it did business with Consol Energy and International Coal Group from 2003 to 2007 and from 2006 to 2007, respectively.

In Feb. 2006, Eric Williams got a job with Top Dog in order to pay off a debt, the complaint says. The plaintiffs believe Williams is related to Fred Boggs, the president of Environmental Regulatory Service Group.

Williams approved McCumbers at some point and suggested he meet with Boggs about the prospect of his company marketing Top Dog's services to prospective clients in the northern and southern coalfields, the complaint says.

On Jan. 23, 2007, the two companies entered into a contract, the complaint says. The contract called for Boggs' company to receive 12 percent commissions on the business it secured for Top Dog, the complaint says.

The plaintiffs say the defendant company never performed the contract services. Instead, the company's officers defamed and slandered Top Dog before prospective clients, the complaint says.

On April 24, 2007, Eric Williams quit Top Dog and went to work for Boggs, the complaint says. Three other Top Dog employees followed.

The complaint says Boggs' company then started doing the same business as Top Dog. And the three employees who left Top Dog were fired, allegedly after they had provided information to Boggs about how to perform Top Dog's work on finding abandoned wells.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Kevin W. Hughart is representing the plaintiffs. The case is before Kanawha Circuit Judge James Stucky.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 09-C-573

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