Florida Court Finds In Favor of Schaeffer et al
On March 28, Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips granted the dismissal of all claims asserted by Southeast Publications USA Inc. against Texas Advertising Inc. d/b/a AGS (TXAD) and Brian Schaeffer.
The case was pending in Florida state court and generally alleged that TXAD and Schaeffer had misappropriated trade secrets and tortuously interfered with Southeast’s contracts and business relationships, according to a news release.
The lawsuit was originally filed last year by Southeast in Florida federal court but it was dismissed shortly after filing by United States District Judge William J. Zloch based on Southeast’s failure to include certain jurisdictional allegations in its complaint.
Judge Zloch also denied Southeast’s request to reinstate the federal lawsuit. Therefore, Southeast turned to Florida state court and filed the identical lawsuit in the apparent hopes of finding a more favorable forum. As before, Southeast brought various claims against TXAD and Schaeffer for unfair business practices.
TXAD and Schaeffer are represented by Casey Erick who immediately sought the dismissal of all of Southeast’s claims on a number of grounds including:
- Southeast did not provide sufficient allegations or evidence which would state a legal claim against TXAD, AGS or Schaeffer.
- Southeast did not adequately allege or provide evidence which would permit jurisdiction in a Florida state court.
A hearing was held on March 18 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl., before Judge Phillips regarding the request for dismissal by TXAD, AGS and Schaeffer. On March 28, Judge Phillips signed an order granting TXAD’s, AGS’s and Schaeffer’s motion and dismissed of Southeast’s claims.
“We have held firm in our belief that the Southeast lawsuit was without merit. Although we recognize that the court’s dismissal may be challenged, we are nonetheless grateful for Judge Phillips' ruling as well as the prior ruling by Judge Zloch,” said Schaeffer, president of Texas Advertising Inc. “This is a great day for our company. We consider this vindication and look forward to returning our focus to growing our business and providing excellent products and services to our customers, without the threat of legal action from our larger competitor.”
Since Texas Advertising Inc. purchased AGS, formerly Affinity Guest Services LLC, in June 2011, the company has ramped up its marketing efforts with 2012 being the best year in company history.
“I believe that our success was the driving force behind the Southeast litigation. We feel blessed to have the amount of business we have and will continue to bring new ideas, products and services to the industry," Schaeffer said.
According to Erick, “We are extremely pleased with the court’s ruling and remain confident that it will be upheld by the court and, if necessary, at the appellate level. I am personally grateful for the careful consideration of the evidence and arguments by Judge Phillips in making her decision. Judge Phillips and her staff were always courteous and graciously provided assistance to us while we became familiar with Florida court procedure.”
Wally Warrick, president and CEO of Southeast Publications, was unavailable for comment.