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.
Ridgeway countersued 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 Michigan found 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.”
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 based.
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.