Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler
APPEAL FROM BUTLER COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No.
Law Office, LLC, Travis E. Burke, for plaintiff-appellant
Shearer Nordstrom, John J. Garvey III, for defendant-appellee
1} Plaintiff-appellant, Calvary Industries, Inc.,
appeals a decision of the Butler County Court of Common
Pleas, granting a motion to dismiss in favor of
defendant-appellee, Coral Chemical Company.
2} Coral Chemical Company is a corporation with
citizenship in Illinois. Coral employed Rashmi Patel, who is
also a citizen of Illinois. After 24 years of employment,
Coral hired Patel as an independent contractor. The
independent contractor agreement included a fixed termination
date. When Patel and Coral could not reach an agreement to
continue Patel's independent contractor status, their
3} Approximately a month later, Calvary, an Ohio
Corporation, hired Patel as an independent contractor.
Calvary instructed Patel that he was not to utilize, share,
or communicate any confidential, proprietary, or trade
secrets he learned while working with Coral.
4} Coral later filed a complaint against Patel in a
Lake County, Illinois, court alleging breach of the
employment agreement and independent contractor agreement
between itself and Patel ("Lake County Case").
Coral alleged that Patel breached the restrictive covenants
prohibiting him from working for Coral's direct
competitors, including Calvary.
5} Within the Lake County Case complaint, Coral
named Calvary as a respondent in discovery. This designation
gave Coral the opportunity to conduct discovery to determine
whether Calvary should be named a defendant in the case.
After a year of disputed proceedings in which Calvary
challenged the Illinois Court's personal jurisdiction
over it, the Illinois Court dismissed Calvary from the Lake
County Case for lack of personal jurisdiction.
6} Prior to Calvary being dismissed from the Lake
County Case, Calvary had initiated the current action for
declaratory judgment against Coral in the Butler County Court
of Common Pleas, seeking a declaration that (1) Calvary was
legally permitted to employ Patel as an independent
contractor; (2) Calvary did not commit any tortious conduct
arising from, or in connection with, the employment of Patel
as an independent contractor; (3) Calvary's employment of
Coral's former employees did not violate noncompete and
confidentiality agreements Coral had with its employees; (4)
Calvary's conduct associated with Patel's employment
did not cause any violation of the employment and independent
contractor agreements between Patel and Coral; and (5)
Calvary had not received, benefited from, or utilized any of
Coral's confidential, proprietary, or trade secret
7} Coral filed a motion to dismiss or stay the
proceedings, and argued that the issues raised in
Calvary's declaratory judgment action were already
pending before the Illinois Court through the Lake County
Case. Calvary had not been dismissed from the Lake County
Case as of this time. The trial court scheduled a conference
with the parties on October 20, 2016. However, on October 19,
2016, the trial court canceled the status conference and
granted Coral's motion to dismiss. Unbeknownst to the
trial court, on September 12, 2016, Calvary had been
dismissed from the Lake County Case. The trial court cited
forum non conveniens as the reason for its dismissal.
8} Calvary thereafter filed a motion to reinstate
its declaratory judgment action wherein it explained that the
Illinois court dismissed it from the Lake County Case for
lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court denied
Calvary's motion to reinstate, stating that it found the
motion "not in proper order." Calvary now
appeals the trial court's order, raising the following
assignments of error.
9} Assignment of Error No. 1:
10} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY GRANTING APPELLEE'S