Renew Windows & Siding LLC v. Anderson
If a former worker poaches customers of a former employer, interferes with existing or prospective business relationships and engages in deceptive business practices, a court can award punitive damages, postjudgment interest, attorneys' fees and costs. In 2007, James Larkin started Renew Windows & Siding LLC as a home improvement business that replaced windows and siding. Renew Windows reached a deal with BJ's Wholesale Club, which permitted Renew Windows to place kiosks in BJ's and to provide BJ's customers with free estimates. Between September 2009 and October 2010, the defendant, Ryan Anderson, worked as a sales manager at Renew Windows. James Larkin discharged Anderson, because they had conflicts about pay and company policies. Allegedly, Anderson contacted Susan Mendes-Miller, a customer at Renew Windows, and offered to help her remodel her kitchen. Mendes-Miller allegedly did not know Anderson did not work for Larkin. Mendes-Miller filed a complaint with BJ's Wholesale Club, because she was unhappy with her remodeled kitchen. Anderson allegedly admitted that he had taken some leads for potential customers from Renew Windows. Renew Windows sued Anderson, alleging that he sold windows to nine customers who had been identified on its lead sheets. The court found that Renew Windows proved conversion, because Anderson allegedly took lead sheets and customer lists that belonged to Renew Windows. The court also found that Anderson poached customers and interfered with existing or prospective business relationships. "The fraudulent acts on the part of Anderson, together with his blatant misrepresentations to Mendes-Miller," wrote the court, "are sufficient to support a cause of action for interference with business expectancy." The plaintiff also established, by a fair preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, because he allegedly used "deceptive practices" and misrepresented himself and his new business as being one and the same as Renew Windows. The court awarded the plaintiff nominal damages of $1, punitive damages of $10,000 and postjudgment interest of 10 percent. The plaintiff may request attorneys' fees and costs.