Tuesday, March 24, 2009

YRC sues former president of one of its carriers

YRC Worldwide Inc. has sued a former president of one of its carriers, seeking damages for allegedly using company secrets after joining a rival trucker.

The federal suit in Kansas City, Kan., was filed late last month against Robert G. Zimmerman of R+L Carriers Inc. According to the suit, Zimmerman was president from June 2005 to April 2007 of USF Holland Inc., YRC’s biggest regional carrier.

As YRC has cut costs, consolidated operations and reduced staff, several reports have surfaced of rival carriers contacting YRC customers in hopes of getting them to switch their business. This is the first known lawsuit YRC has filed locally against a high-ranking former executive alleging confidential information has been disclosed to a rival company.

The following account is based on Overland Park-based YRC’s lawsuit:

Zimmerman signed a separation agreement with YRC and Holland that provided separation pay and benefits in excess of $75,000. In consideration for the payment, the pact also stated that Zimmerman agreed he would “not, directly or indirectly, use for any purpose, or disclose to any person or entity, any confidential information.”

Late last year, Zimmerman was hired at R+L Carriers, based in Wilmington, Ohio, in a position “nearly identical” to the one he held at USF Holland, according to the suit. Around that same time, several YRC employees left and joined Zimmerman at R+L. They included former vice president of sales Ken Sustarsic and ex-director of sales Tom Doan.

In late December, Doan allegedly e-mailed a spreadsheet to R+L’s sales staff with confidential information on nearly 3,000 YRC customers, encouraging the staff to solicit their business.

In January, YRC sued Doan and Sustarsic in an Ohio court and won a temporary restraining order that they cease using the confidential information and cease contacting YRC customers.

Although he was notified of the lawsuit and court order, “Zimmerman has failed to take any measures to protect against the direct or indirect use or disclosure of YRCW’s confidential information.”

YRC contends Zimmerman has breached the separation agreement and is seeking damages in excess of $75,000.

Zimmerman could not be reached last week at R+L’s headquarters. A YRC spokeswoman said the company did not comment on ongoing litigation.

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