A federal judge in New Jersey yesterday transferred a sales rep poaching case between DJO Global and Stryker (NYSE:SYK) to Indiana because the quintet of ex-Stryker sales reps involved live there and most of the events in th case occurred in the Hoosier State.
The lawsuit, originally filed in April 2016 in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey, alleged a scheme by DJO and the former Stryker sales reps – Kywin Supernaw, Brad Bolinger, Justin Davis, Jake Eisterhold, Eric Huebner and Tim Broecker – that took a roughly 33% bite out of Stryker’s ortho & trauma sales in Indiana in 2015.
In June 2016 DJO and the reps fired back, asking Judge John Michael Vazquez to dismiss the case for lack of evidence, or alternatively to shift it to the U.S. District Court for Southern Indiana. Yesterday Vazquez granted the motions to relocate the case, according to court documents.
“Here, it is clear that the substantial relevant conduct at the core of this case occurred in Indiana. Stryker alleges that DJO hired its Indiana sales representatives to work for DJO in Indiana, using their knowledge and resources to take business away from Stryker’s Indiana customers. Indeed, Stryker claims that the alleged violations took place in Indiana or the surrounding area, when the employee defendants improperly contacted physicians in the north central branch. Critically, Stryker emphasizes that its employees cultivate and develop relationships with surgeons in a particular geographical area. Here, that area is Indiana not New Jersey. The thrust of Stryker’s concerns focuses on the employee defendants using such relationships with physicians in Indiana to benefit DJO,” Vazquez wrote. “Because a substantial part of the relevant events occurred in Indiana, that state is an appropriate venue.”
The lawsuit alleged that DJO attempted to poach at least a dozen Stryker employees, including the 5 ex-reps in Indiana.
“Each of these individuals is now working on DJO’s behalf with the intent of maliciously interfering with Stryker’s longstanding customer relationships and jeopardizing significant revenue,” Stryker alleged in the complaint, claiming that Davis, Eisterhold & Huebner – who put up 33% of SYK’s ortho and trauma sales in the Hoosier State last year – abruptly bolted to DJO in February, reporting to Supernaw, who had already jumped ship in 2011 (taking 2 employees with him to a Smith & Nephew (NYSE:SNN) distributor, the lawsuit alleged).