Synthes USA slapped a former sales rep and Biomet Inc. with a lawsuit accusing them of colluding to steal customers from the sales rep’s Ohio territory.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania, alleges that John Scott of Dublin, Ohio, conspired with Biomet to solicit and convert Synthes customers before leaving Synthes’ employ, violating non-disclosure and non-compete agreements Scott signed when he was hired in June 2006.
Scott gave West Chester, Pa.-based Synthes two weeks’ notice on Valentine’s Day this year, telling the company he would be moving on to work for Warsaw, Ind.-based Biomet, according to court documents. But even before he left the company for good he was working to move his Synthes customers, surgeons and hospitals using spinal implant surgery products, over to Biomet, according to the documents.
"Scott and Biomet closely coordinated efforts to improperly convert Scott’s biggest Synthes customers to Biomet through a series of carefully orchestrated actions that began well before Scott left Synthes’ employ," the heavily redacted documents allege. "Less than two weeks after Scott provided notice of his resignation to Synthes, but before Scott’s last day with Synthes, notwithstanding Scott’s assurances that he would honor his contractual obligations, Synthes was advised that a large amount of business from Scott’s largest customer was immediately converting from Synthes products to Biomet products out of loyalty to John Scott. In fact, surgeries scheduled for after Scott’s departure were switched from Synthes to Biomet products on hospital surgery schedules even before Scott left Synthes."
The bid to convert Scott’s business resulted in his largest customers moving "all or substantially all" of their Synthes business to Biomet, the documents allege.
"This conversion was a direct result of Scott’s move to Biomet and was always an integral part of Biomet’s and Scott’s coordinated plan when Scott’s employment with Biomet was being negotiated," according to the documents. "In this industry, the relationship that a salesman develops with surgeons is a key driver of sales. To this day Scott actively maintains regular and frequent contact with his former Synthes customers in order to maintain close personal relationships with them that can help drive sales to Biomet now and into the future."
The lawsuit seeks a jury trial, damages, and legal fees.