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NATIONAL CHEMSEARCH CORP. v. HANKER

February 12, 1970

NATIONAL CHEMSEARCH CORPORATION OF NEW YORK
v.
James W. HANKER


June L. Green, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREEN

JUNE L. GREEN, District Judge.

 This action is brought by National Chemsearch of New York, a Texas corporation, engaged, with its parent corporation and associated companies, in the manufacture, sale and distribution of various commercial chemical products against a former salesman* for violation of covenants in his employment contract, conversion of valuable property belonging to the plaintiff, acts of unfair competition and conspiracy to procure the alleged breaches of contract and to commit the alleged acts of conversion and unfair competition.

 Findings of Fact

 1. Both parties, by virtue of the fact that each regularly does business within the District of Columbia, are "found" within the District, thereby vesting jurisdiction in this Court. D.C. Code § 11-521 (1967).

 2. The commercial chemical products industry is a highly competitive business, the success of which depends on the marketing energies employed. Sales representatives personally call on purchasing agents of commercial, industrial and institutional users and thereby develop accounts which are thereafter serviced.

 3. The commercial chemical products sold by members of the industry vary as to use, but as to each use vary little as between manufacturers.

 4. Defendant was hired by plaintiff on July 17, 1961, at which time defendant agreed in writing to sell plaintiff's commercial chemical products in the District of Columbia and Fairfax, Prince William, Stafford, King George, Spotsylvania, Caroline, Orange, Louisa, Fluvanna, Albemarle, Augusta and Highland Counties, Virginia. In that agreement, defendant covenanted not to compete with plaintiff on defendant's own or anyone else's behalf, in the abovementioned city or counties during his employment, or for one year thereafter.

 5. Defendant covenanted not to divulge to others or use to his own benefit, any confidential information acquired during the course of his employment relating to sales, processes, formulae, etc.; and agreed further to do his utmost to further the best interests of plaintiff during his employment.

 6. As a consequence of entering into the written employment agreement, defendant became entitled to and received regular draws and commissions from sales and received customer lists, known as route books and various other material used in selling plaintiff's products. The customer route books contained the names and addresses of customers and, where applicable, prior sale dates, amount and type of product(s) bought and the name of the buying agent together with personal data about him.

 7. The employment contract was terminable at the will of either party.

 8. Defendant was assured that his accounts would be "protected"; that is, the accounts serviced by him within six months would not be serviced by other Chemsearch salesmen, and if they were, the commissions would inure to defendant.

 9. Although defendant's sales territory was defined, it was not his exclusive territory. The contract states that defendant was to be "a sales representative" in the assigned territory. That provision carries with it no connotation that the territory was exclusively assigned to defendant. On the contrary, it connotes that defendant was to be "a" representative among several. ...


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