May 29, 2010

Bovine Genetics sales halted by non-compete clause

One of the owners had agreed with a former employer not to artificially inseminate cows.

By Betty Adams
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — A New York-based company is seeking to keep a fired employee from selling bull semen and artificially inseminating cows.

A judge in Kennebec County Superior Court on Friday extended an order prohibiting Kelly Moore, 52, of Augusta from engaging in that work in the geographic territory where he once worked for Genex Cooperative Inc. -- central Maine and portions of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Vermont.

Genex attorneys claim Moore is violating a noncompete clause in his employment contract, saying he engaged in selling and marketing to Genex customers in his former sales area.

Justice John Nivison granted a temporary restraining order May 17, finding "a likelihood" that Genex's contention would be successful. That order led to Friday's oral arguments.

Nivison indicated afterward that attorneys are to notify him by next Friday if they reach an agreement.

The plaintiff, Genex, based in Ithaca, N.Y., is a subsidiary of Cooperative Resources International and "one of the world's leading suppliers of cattle genetics," according to its website.

The May 17 restraining order bans Moore; Nathan Cossaboom, of Fayette; and Bovine Genetics LLC, a new company started in April by Cossaboom, from divulging Genex trade secrets.

According to the complaint filed by Genex attorney Thad Zmistowski, Moore had signed a contract containing a condition that banned him from competing with Genex for 18 months after leaving.

Genex wants Moore to "immediately cease his sales and marketing activities to Genex customers in the geographic area formerly served by him." The firm also wants him to "refrain from divulging Genex customers and pricing information," among other things.

On Friday, Moore testified he signed a technician's contract in August 1999, when he was hired by Genex as a part-time relief artificial insemination technician.

In September 2003, he was promoted to area sales representative. He testified he did not sign any other noncompete agreement.

Amy Jasmine, of Turner, who works for Genex, testified Friday that Moore's employment ended in February after he had been warned in 2009 that he failed to keep liquid nitrogen in four tanks holding bull semen. She said he was fired after another tank went dry in early 2010.


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