CINCINNATI — Oral arguments have begun before an appeals court in the case of Stryker
vs. Christopher Ridgeway, a former sales representative scheduled to
appeal his $750,000 loss in a lawsuit.
According to a report
by Mass Device, Ridgeway was sued by the medical-technology
giant in 2013 after he was alleged to have taken representatives
and business away from Stryker in Louisiana and New York. Ridgeway
was fired by Stryker in September 2013 and hired by rival Biomet
after Stryker found that Ridgeway was allegedly running
medical-supply businesses outside of work.
and alleged that Stryker defamed him by falsely stating to his
customers that he was bound by a noncompete agreement. In turn, this
statement cost him millions, Ridgeway alleged.
In February 2016, a jury in the U.S. District Court for Western
in favor of Stryker and awarded the company nearly $750,000 in
damages because of “breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty
and a trade-secrets claim.”
Ridgeway then appealed
the verdict, arguing that there was no noncompete agreement with
Stryker. The appeals was made to the 6th
Circuit Court of Appeals, which is in Cincinnati.
But when Stryker went after millions in costs and attorney fees,
Ridgeway declared bankruptcy.
In beginning oral
arguments held Feb. 1 before the appellate court, the point of
contention was the noncompete agreement and where the appeal should
be heard, in Michigan or Louisiana.
“Ridgeway removed trade secrets from the serves, that were
located in Michigan,” Michael Wexler, counsel for Stryker, said.
“The starting point in Louisiana, is that a noncompete agreement
is invalid. It’s null and void. There has long been a hostility
towards noncompete agreements in that state,” Louis LaCour, counsel
for Ridgeway, argued.
“He made a proposal where he stole information on Michigan
servers,” Wexler said.
LaCour argued that Ridgeway lives in Louisiana.
“He lives there, he had customers there and he visited hospitals
there,” LaCour said.
Ridgeway has also argued in his appeal that the case should have
been tried in Louisiana, rather than Michigan, where Stryker is
Ridgeway is the brother of Patrick Ridgeway who was a registered agent of troubled New Orleans-based biotech firm Renaissance Rx that was previously accused of fraudulent activity.