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Pickvet v. Viking Group, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

February 3, 2017

TERRY PICKVET, Plaintiff,
v.
VIKING GROUP, INC., and SUPPLY NETWORK, INC., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM S. DUPFEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants Viking Group, Inc. (“Viking Group”) and Supply Network, Inc.'s (“Supply Network”) (together, “Defendants”) Motion to Transfer Venue [3].

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, a citizen of Georgia, was employed by Defendant Supply Network.[1] In 2009, he entered into an employment agreement (“Employment Agreement”) with Viking Group. ([2] at 22-27). The Employment Agreement has, in paragraph 2, a section entitled “Noncompetition, ” which contains certain restrictive covenants (“Restrictive Covenants”). The Restrictive Covenants are stated below:

During the term of Employee's employment and for a period of two (2) years after that employment ends, Employee will not compete in any way with the business of the Company in the Southeastern U.S. Sales Region. This area will include the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas. This promise not to compete includes, but is not limited to, a promise that Employee will not engage in any of the following activities:
a) Employee will not work with, for, or have any interest in, any organization that competes with the Company.
b) Employee will not attempt to persuade any customer, supplier, or potential customer or supplier of the Company that they should not do business with the Company, should reduce their purchases of the Company's products or services, or should do business with a competitor of the Company.
c) Employee will not sell or aid in the sale of any products or services that are competitive with any services or products of the Company to any customer or potential customer of the Company.
d) Employee will not solicit, encourage or persuade any employee of the Company to terminate their employment with the Company or to take any action that adversely affects their ability to carry out their employment duties with the Company.

([2] at 25).

         The Employment Agreement provides that any dispute arising under the agreement shall be filed in either Kent County Circuit Court or the Western District of Michigan (“Forum Selection Provision”). (Id. at 27). The agreement provides further that it shall be governed by Michigan law (“Choice of Law Provision”). (Id.).

         On January 23, 2017, Plaintiff terminated his employment with his employer and began working for Winsupply, Inc. (“Winsupply”), a company that competes with Viking Group in the sprinkler products business.

         On January 23, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint [1.1] in the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia (the “Georgia Action”), seeking a declaratory judgment that the Restrictive Covenants are not enforceable against him and do not restrict his employment with Winsupply. It was not served on Viking Group until January 26, 2017.

         On January 26, 2017, Defendant Viking Group filed a complaint in the Circuit Court in Kent County, Michigan, alleging that Plaintiff breached his employment agreement and seeking to enforce the agreement against Plaintiff. See Viking Grp., Inc. v. Pickvet, No. 1:17-cv-103-PLM-PJG (W.D. Mich. 2017) (Dkt. No. 1.1) (“Michigan Action”). Viking ...


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