Jilted Synthes goes after ex-sales reps, Stryker

December 29, 2011 by MassDevice staff

Johnson & Johnson's Synthes orthopedic surgery division sues Stryker Corp. and three former sales agents, accusing them of stealing trade secrets and breaking their non-disclosure pacts.

Johnson & Johnson, Synthes

Synthes, the orthopedic surgery specialists Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) paid $21.3 billion for in April, accused three of its former sales representatives of violating their non-disclosure pacts and stealing trade secrets when they quit to work for rival Stryker Corp. (NYSE:SYK).

Synthes USA Sales LLC sued Stryker, Michael Russell, Jonathan Sassani and Kristen Phillips-Cheng in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania, charging the former sales reps with breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and breaking the Pennsylvania Uniform Trade Secrets Act.

The three sales reps all quit and went to work for Stryker between August and October, according to the lawsuit, which alleges that Russell and Sassani tried to recruit other Synthes reps for Stryker on their way out the door.

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Synthes claims in the lawsuit to have repeatedly warned Stryker and its new hires of the non-compete and non-disclosure obligations in their contracts. Those provisions allegedly barred them from selling into the northern California hospital market for any companies competing with Synthes, according to the lawsuit.