Porters Building Centers, Kearney, Mo., has accused four of its former employees of conspiring with rival company Sprint Lumber, St. Joseph, Mo., in order to drive Porters out of business to gain a monopoly over the area, reports Ray Scherer of the St. Joseph News-Press.

Porters filed the suit in the U.S. District Court's Wesetern District against Sprint Lumber. Porters alleges that former employees Jerry Downey, Jess Reynolds, Sheila Higdon, and Ray Meng all worked for Porters while they "sought to 'capture' Porters’ sales, copy confidential information, and 'dump' the data out of Porters’ systems," Scherer, says. The company accuses Downey of abusing his position as manager. Scherer writes:

Porters alleges that as manager of its Elwood, Kansas, location, Downey had access to proprietary company information and processes — along with customer lists and contacts. By virtue of working under Downey, the other three defendants had a thorough knowledge of Porters’ services and operations.

Porters wants an injunction against the four employees, Sprint Lumber, and Sprint's owner, Scott Laderoute. The company also seeks financial relief.

Sprint Lumber, through its attorneys, has denied Porters' claims:

“Any alleged interference with a legitimate business expectancy was justified and done in accordance with defendants’ unqualified legal rights to compete for customers and employees,” attorneys for Sprint Lumber said in court filings. “Additionally, any of the alleged activities of defendants constitute proper, legal means.”

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