Smyth Jewelers, a Baltimore-based retailer, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Wednesday. The lawsuit alleges that several of its former employees of unlawfully taking confidential lists of vendors, employees and customers to start a similar business.
Albert S. Smyth Co. is seeking damages from a jewelry business, Meritage Fine Jewelers, started by its former vice president, chief operating officer and two other former employees. All of which are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
The jeweler accuses former vice president of operations, John Jackson III, and Mark Motes, former COO of Smyth from 2007 through 2016, of taking confidential information when they departed the company in November.
After leaving Smyth, Jackson stole information the company stored in a Dropbox account that contained a file with an estimated 50,000 customers, along with their purchasing history and contact information, according to the lawsuit.
Other files included in the Dropbox account were employees’ salaries, vendor pricing, purchase plans and business plans, the lawsuit says.
An attorney for Smyth, Steve Fedder, said, “They’ve got everything they need to replicate our business.”
Meritage is preparing to open a store in Lutherville this summer, which is less than a mile from Smyth’s Timonium flagship store.
Mason Motes, a former employee of Smyth, is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, as well as Brian McCullough, who is described as Smyth’s former leading sales person in the court documents.
Smyth also alleges that Mark Motes breached a noncomplete employment contract that prohibited him from starting a competing business in Maryland for at least two years after his departure from the company and soliciting employees or customers.
Smyth previously filed a lawsuit against only Motes that included that violation. After that case was moved to federal court, Smyth acquired knowledge of the alleged violations of federal and state trade secret laws and added the other defendants, Fedder said.
Smyth said if Meritage utilizes the confidential information, its business will be “irreparably injured.” The retailer is requesting the court to order all the defendants not to contact or do business with its vendors or customers or hire Smyth employees.
Smyth has stores in Ellicott City, Annapolis and Timonium.