Company wants $5M from former employee

By Justin Anderson | May 1, 2009

HUNTINGTON – A developer of rubber and plastic products is suing a former employee, claiming the employee used confidential information to help other companies make the same products.

Rubberlite Inc. filed a lawsuit April 3 against Eric Scott Speas in Cabell Circuit Court.

In addition to compensatory damages, Rubberlite wants $5 million in punitive damages from Speas.

"For months, while he was still serving as an officer and employee of Rubberlite, Speas misappropriated and misused Rubberlite's confidential information and trade secrets to formulate products, and to enable Rubberlite's customers and competitors to make the products themselves rather than having to buy them from Rubberlite," the complaint says.

Rubberlite says Speas was hired in October 1996 as a technical director. By the time of his resignation in December 2008, the company says Speas' base salary was $105,000 and he got a $12,000 bonus in November 2008.

Speas job was to develop and test products made by Rubberlite, the complaint says. To do his job, Speas was given access to Rubberlite's confidential information and trade secrets.

At first, Speas lived and worked in Huntington before transferring to Bedford, Va. to develop and test another product.

Upon moving to Virginia in 2006, Rubberlite says it agreed to reimburse Speas $10,000 for moving expenses and to loan him $85,000 to buy a house. The parties also discussed an increase in salary at that time.

The salary increase came with an employment agreement that held Speas to restrictive covenants, Rubberlite claims.

Speas signed the salary agreement, but not the employment agreement, the company says.

In 2007, Rubberlite claims Speas demanded another salary increase, or an ownership share in the company or royalties. He also demanded that the company discharge him of approximately $170,000 in debt he allegedly owed to the company at the time, the complaint says.

The company refused to meet with Speas demands, the complaint says.

On December 11, 2008, Speas announced he would be resigning from Rubberlite, effective Jan. 2009, the complaint says.

After his resignation, the company says it discovered through an investigation that Speas had started working with Rubberlite's customers and competitors to develop products identical to those of Rubberlite, the complaint says.

The company believes that this alleged disloyalty began in the summer of 2008.

Daniel J. Konrad is representing Rubberlite. The case is before Cabell Circuit Judge David Pancake.

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 09-C-263

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