Using former employer’s client list a grave mistake

Employees took client list with them when they quit and went after former employer’s customers
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 07/31/2012

Two former funeral home employees must pay their former employer almost $300,000 after taking a client list and starting up a competing business, the British Columbia Supreme Court has ruled.

The Graham Funeral Home was for many years the only funeral home in the town of Oliver, B.C., and it was owned by Service Corporation International (SCI), an international provider of funeral services. John Nunes was hired in 1982 when his father-in-law owned the business. In 1991, Nunes’ father-in-law sold the funeral home to a corporation that eventually merged with SCI and Nunes became Graham’s manager.

Nunes hoped to buy Graham after his father-in-law sold it, and he and Daryn Pottinger, Graham’s funeral director and only other full-time employee, teamed up to try to purchase the funeral home. In January 2007, they made an offer of $422,000 to SCI. SCI was aware that if the bid was unsuccessful, Nunes would likely leave to start up a competing business.