Massachusetts Breach of Contract Claim Filed Against Lab, Worker

A medical device and drug manufacturer based in Illinois has filed a breach of contract claim against Boston Scientific, a company based in Natick, Mass. The allegation is that a former employee violated a contract by luring employees to Boston Scientific.
Our Boston employment contract lawyers understand that the case, filed in U.S. District Court in Georgia, involves a claim from Abbott Laboratories that a former employee, who had been vice president of sales in one of its primary divisions, approached a number of other Abbott employees after he was hired by Boston Scientfic. It started back in January, and the Illinois firm says it has lost three key employees as a result.

Abbott said such conduct is forbidden, per a contract agreement the firm had with its former VP, barring him from soliciting certain other employees – either directly or indirectly. A copy of that agreement was reportedly forwarded to Boston Scientific when this individual was hired.

It’s Abbott’s contention that even though Boston knew of the obligation contained in that contract, Boston and its new employee pressed forward in a quest to pilfer some of Abbott’s critical employees.

The exact allegation is tortious interference with a contract and breach of contract. The remedy being sought is a halt to such actions, as well as monetary damages for the employees already reportedly heisted.

An Abbott representative later told a reporter that the contract was always about protecting the investment it makes in its workers, as well as the confidential information that those workers possess.

Boston Scientific didn’t offer a comment, but it hasn’t been a good month for the firm. Another lawsuit was filed against the company a few weeks ago by a medical device company based in Florida, alleging patent infringement of heart devices.

Situations like this arise frequently in business. Regardless of what side of the aisle you are on, our experienced Boston business attorneys can help.

While you can’t anticipate every possible scenario, you can often prevent a breach of contract situation by working closely with an attorney to draft contracts that contain precise language and address potential issues. A solid contract is often the best way to minimize your litigation risk – or at least to ensure you will emerge victorious in the event that litigation becomes inevitable.

Defenses to breach of contract will depend on the individual circumstances. Potentially, those may include:

  • The contract was oral, yet should have been written;
  • The contract was indefinite;
  • There was a mutual mistake regarding an essential fact in the contract;
  • You lacked the capacity to sign that contract;
  • You were fraudulently induced to enter into the contract;
  • The contract was grossly unfair;
  • The contract was illegal.

Bear in mind, your breach of contract defense options are not limited to these, but this is where you might start. In fact, the law actually allows you to claim multiple defenses, even if they conflict with one another. That may not always be the best strategy, but it will depend largely on the situation.

In breach of contract cases, there numerous types of damages that can be collected by the wronged party. Those might include:

  • Compensatory damages, or money intended to compensate the non-breaching party for losses — including expectation damages, or those that cover what the injured party expected to receive from the contract, as well as consequential damages, which will reimburse the wronged party for indirect damages.
  • Liquidation damages, which are specifically provided in the contract, are determined at the time of the contract formation.
  • Punitive damages, or those intended to punish the breaching party and to serve as a deterrence from future acts.
  • Nominal damages, which are awarded when there is no actual monetary loss involved.
  • Restitutionary damages, which prevent the offending party from being unjustly enriched.

The Brown Law Firm, LLC, has offices in Belmont and Boston. For a free and confidential consultation, call 617-489-0817 or contact us online.

Additional Resources:
Boston Scientific hit with suit claiming employee breach of contract, March 15, 2013, By Don Seiffert, Boston Business Journal
More Blog Entries:
Massachusetts Small Business Start-Ups Need Legal Advice, Feb. 20, 2013, Boston Business Lawyer Blog

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