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Total Quality Logistics, LLC v. Navajo Express, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division

April 30, 2018

TOTAL QUALITY LOGISTICS, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
NAVAJO EXPRESS, INC., d/b/a DSCO LOGISTICS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND (DOC. 10)

          Timothy S. Black United States District Judge

         This civil case is before the Court on the motion of Plaintiff Total Quality Logistics, LLC (“TQL”) to remand this case to the Clermont County Court of Common Pleas (“State Court”) (Doc. 10) as well as the parties' responsive memoranda (Docs. 18, 19).

         I. INTRODUCTION

         TQL is an Ohio limited liability company with its principal place of business in Clermont County, Ohio. (Doc. 9 at ¶ 2). TQL provides freight brokerage and third-party logistics services to customers across the continental United States. (Id.)

         Defendant Navajo Express, Inc., d/b/a DSCO Logistics (“Navajo”), is a Colorado corporation. (Doc. 9 at ¶ 6). Defendants Justin Whitaker, Logan Camin, and Joseph Kerr (collectively, the “Individual Defendants”) are Colorado residents. (Id. at ¶¶ 3-5). Each of the Individual Defendants is a former employee of TQL and a current employee of Navajo. (Id.)[1]

         On March 23, 2018, TQL commenced this action by filing a complaint (“Complaint”) in State Court. (Doc. 2). The Complaint alleges that, before commencing employment with TQL, each of the Individual Defendants executed an Employee Non-Compete, Confidentiality, and Non-Solicitation Agreement (“Agreement”). (Doc. 2 at ¶ 14, 20, 26; Ex. A). The Complaint alleges that, by signing the Agreement, the Individual Defendants agreed, for a period of one year after their employment ended, to not work for or associate with any TQL competitor, solicit any TQL customer or carrier with which TQL had a relationship, solicit or recruit other TQL employees, and to not disclose or use TQL's confidential or proprietary information. (Id.)

         The Complaint alleges that the Individual Defendants are violating the Agreements by working for Navajo in positions similar to the positions they held at TQL, using or disclosing TQL's confidential information, soliciting TQL customers, and competing with TQL. (Doc. 2 at ¶¶ 18, 24, 30). The Complaint alleges that Navajo continues to employ the Individual Defendants despite its knowledge of the restrictive covenants in the Agreement. (Id. at ¶¶ 31-33). The Complaint asserts claims for breach of contract against the Individual Defendants, tortious interference with contract against Navajo, and claims of tortious interference with business relations, violation of the Ohio Uniform Trade Secrets Act, Violation of Defend Trade Secrets Act, and civil conspiracy against all Defendants.

         The Complaint demands preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, punitive damages, fees, costs, and “compensatory damages in favor of TQL in an amount to be determined at trail in excess of $25, 000.” (Doc. 2 at 17).

         Concurrent with the Complaint, on March 23, 2018, TQL filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction requesting that the Individual Defendants be prohibited from further violating the provisions of the Agreement in their employment with Navajo. (Doc. 3).

         On April 3, 2018, Defendants removed the case to this Court. (Doc. 1). The notice of removal argues that this Court has original jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, “in that diversity of citizenship exists between plaintiff and all defendants, and based upon information and belief, the amount in controversy exceeds the sum of Seventy-Five Thousand Dollars ($75, 000.00).” (Doc. 1 at 1).

         On April 6, 2018, TQL filed an Amended Complaint. (Doc. 9). The Amended Complaint is substantially similar to the Complaint, with the exception that it clarified TQL is not seeking more than $75, 000 in this case. Specifically, the Amended Complaint demands that the Court, inter alia:

b) Award compensatory damages in favor of TQL in an amount to be determined at trial in excess of $25, 000.00, but not more than $75, 000.00, inclusive of any award of punitive damages, attorney's fees, and injunctive relief;
c) Award punitive damages in favor of TQL in an amount of not more than $75, 000.00, inclusive of any award of compensatory damages, ...

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