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Liberty Ashes, Inc. v. Taormina

Supreme Court of New York, Nassau

January 21, 2014

Liberty Ashes, Inc., Plaintiff,

Editorial Note:

This case is not published in a printed volume and its disposition appears in a table in the reporter.

For Plaintiff: Ray E. Shain, Esq., Garden city, NY.

For Defendant: Michael B. Palillo, P.C., Ilene Cohen, Esq., New York, NY.


Vito M. DeStefano, J.

The Plaintiff, Liberty Ashes., Inc. moves for an order pursuant to CPLR 6301 enjoining the Defendants, Michael Taormina and Empire State Environmental Company, LLC from " contacting, soliciting or contracting for services with any of its customers, and from inducing or attempting to induce any of its customers to reduce its business with [Liberty] during the pendency of this action" .

Factual Background

Since 1989, Liberty Ashes, Inc. (" Liberty" ) has been in the business of commercial refuse collection and waste management in the New York City and Long Island areas. Defendant Michael Taormina was employed by Liberty as a salesman for seven years until his resignation on November 15, 2013. As a salesman, it was Taormina's job to " locate and approach prospective customers and to thereafter obtain a signed contact from them for the services provided by [Liberty]. From that point on, the customer was serviced in all ways by the office personnel and Taormina was not required to be in contact with them" (S. Bellino Affidavit in Support at ¶ 5).

Liberty's customers are tenants in commercial buildings. Liberty obtains its customers by establishing relationships with superintendents and building managers. The " agreement with the superintendents and the building managers are private and confidential. Knowing who our customers are and what we charge, as well as which superintendents or building managers we have agreements with and what we pay them for bringing the trash to the curb for our customers is an incalculable advantage to a competitor" (S. Bellino Affidavit in Support at ¶ ¶ 7, 8).

After Taormina resigned on November 15, 2013, Liberty discovered that Taormina was purportedly using Liberty's " confidential and proprietary information" to solicit its customers and contacts in New York City on behalf of his new employer, Defendant Empire State Environmental Company, LLC (" Empire" ), and, because the waste collection and disposal business is " extremely competitive and price sensitive" , Liberty is " being damaged every day this conduct continues." Further, in order to " reassure and retain customers" approached by Taormina, Liberty " has, and will continue to be forced to make price and service concessions" (S. Bellino Affidavit in Support at ¶ ¶ 9, 10; D. Bellino Affidavit in Support at ¶ 11; Ex. " B" to Affirmation in Support).

Thereafter, on or about December 19, 2013, Liberty commenced an action against Taormina and Empire asserting causes of action for, inter alia , tortious interference with contractual relationships and breach of the Employee Confidential Information and Non-Competition Agreement (" Agreement" ) signed by Taormina on June 11, 2007. The Agreement provided as follows:

In view of my job duties and responsibilities. I have been and will continue to be privy to the Company's highly confidential and proprietary processes and methods of providing services and products to its customers, including certain trade secrets consisting of among other things, information and data regarding costs, profits, pricing, sales, markets, products, key personnel, operational methods, technical processes, computer and software programs or systems developed or improved by the Company (in various stages of development), customers and vendors, customers and vendors representatives and contacts, the nature of the services required by the Company's actual and prospective customers and vendors, the services performed by the Company for its customers and vendors, other unique needs and requests of the Company's vendors, and other business affairs, methods and strategies, plans for future development, and other information of the Company that is not readily available to the public (such information referred to collectively as " Confidential Information" ).

I shall not during or at any time after the termination of my employment with the Company , and notwithstanding the cause of termination or the party terminating, use for myself or others, or disclose or divulge to others , for purposes other than the Company's business, any Confidential Information of the Company, unless such information shall have become public knowledge through sources other than me, or is information generally known to competitors . I further agree not to copy or record, electronically, on disk or tape, or otherwise, any data owned by the Company, including but not limited to software programs, databases, or customer or vendor lists.

With respect to any and all customers and vendors with whom I have or will have a relationship during my employment with the Company. I recognize that the Company subsidizes and otherwise financially supports my recruitment efforts as part of the Company's focus on customer and vendor development ...

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