Stryker Sues Biomet for Stealing Reps and Corporate Secrets
Stryker (Howmedica Osteonics Corp) takes their non-compete agreements seriously, and on Wednesday, they sued three Biomet affiliates in Texas, claiming they poached Stryker employees involved in the Foot and Ankle business, forcing them to lose business and steal trade secrets in the process.
Ex-Stryker reps, Andrew Ruggles and Carson Combs, began working at Biomet South Texas within a matter of weeks of their separation from Stryker. In their time at Stryker, they worked closely together as Foot & Ankle sales representatives in the Houston, TX area.
Starting in December 2016, both Ruggles and Combs, began soliciting their old customers attempting to convince surgeons and hospitals to purchase Zimmer Biomet Foot and Ankle products. The complaint states that during this time, the reps solicited the accounts from their old Stryker territories.
The best part is Stryker reps had their eyes out for the ex-reps and on multiple occasions witnessed them dropping off Zimmer Biomet products at accounts in their old territory. Ruggles was on to the spies though because on at least one occasion he signed into a surgery center under a different name in an effort to conceal his identity from the Stryker spies.
Stryker claims they have already lost actual business exceeding $75,000 since the two reps went over to Zimmer Biomet and they stand to potentially lose millions of dollars in business because of the poaching scheme.
Stryker states in the complaint that both ex-reps signed agreements that would prevent them from selling competitive products and disclosing Stryker's confidential information.
Stryker asked the Judge to issue a temporary restraining order, barring Zimmer Biomet and the reps from further alleged violations but no word on that yet.
These are obviously two market rivals who have the resources to bring complaints like this to our court system. It would be interesting to know if Biomet South Texas is responsible for a majority of the legal fees since they hired the reps, or if Zimmer Biomet steps in and covers the legal fees. This could be a play by Stryker corporate to bleed a Zimmer Biomet distributor dry.
Can two reps really steal that much business from their old company? Yes, they were able to collectively bring in 75k in a couple of months, but wouldn't the Stryker reps who replaced these two be able to get all of the business back or at least compete for it?
These cases are always interesting and we will keep you posted with updates as they become available.
Take a look at the original complaint below.