The lawsuit accuses Michelle Kirby, Blake Bednarz and Jason Gotham of breach of "intentional and malicious violations of their duties of loyalty to NuVasive, misappropriation of NuVasive’s trade secrets, and violations of their post-employment obligations," according to documents filed with the U.S. District Court for Western New York.
At’s 1 of at least 2 lawsuits filed against former reps who now work for Lanx by San Diego-based NuVasive, which makes spinal surgery devices.
Last week, Lanx lost a bid to have a lawsuit against it tossed, after the Delaware Chancery Court denied its motion to dismiss the case. A separate lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for Southern Texas makes similar allegations against Lanx and several named defendants, but the Delaware case names only Lanx.
In the Texas lawsuit, filed in March, NuVasive sued 2 former sales executives, James Greene and William Vanlandingham, who jumped ship for Lanx, accusing them of violating non-compete agreements.
"On or around October, 2011, Lanx began a raid on NuVasive employees across
the country," according to the lawsuit. "This raid started in western New York, where 5 NuVasive salespeople left NuVasive to work for Lanx, and a top consulting surgeon for NuVasive announced that he had become a consultant for Lanx. Two months later, 3 top California directors and managers were recruited from NuVasive to work for Lanx. After learning of Lanx’s raid on its California employees, NuVasive sent Lanx a cease and desist letter. Lanx responded dismissively, and continued to raid NuVasive employees."
"[I]n late 2011 and early 2012, Lanx targeted NuVasive’s Texas workforce, and started recruiting Mr. Greene, Mr. Vanlandingham, and others, to join the company," according to the lawsuit, which seeks legal fees, injunctions barring further contract breaches, damages, punitive damages, and pre- and post-judgment interest.
The latest suit, filed July 27, deals with the genesis of the alleged raid in the Empire State, according to court documents, which accuse a NuVasive consultant (and now Lanx advisory board member), Dr. Andrew Cappuccino, of deciding to "unilaterally end his relationship with NuVasive" and ink a similar deal with Lanx.
"Dr. Cappuccino surreptitiously provided services to Lanx before informing NuVasive of his intent to end his relationship with NuVasive," according to the documents. Kirby, Bednarz and Gotham allegedly knew of Cappuccino’s plans but allegedly "chose to assist and advance Lanx’s plan while deceiving NuVasive into believing that they continued to fulfill their duties as trusted employees," according to the complaint.
Bednarz and Gotham, Kirby’s supervisors, allegedly presented a business plan to Lanx chairman & CEO Dan Gladney and other top executives, NuVasive claimed in the lawsuit. A chain of emails allegedly shows contact between the defendants and Cappuccino leading up to the National Assn. of Spine Surgeons meeting in Chicago last November.
The lawsuit seeks a jury trial, compensatory and punitive damages, pre-judgment interest and legal fees.