Civil/Commercial Litigation (Lawsuits)/Dispute with Boss...

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Question
Hi I managed a cosmetic store and decided to buy the store....only days before closing some sketchy finical information and some mismatched inventory numbers came out. Of course at this point I was uncomfortable moving forward.I backed out of the deal....everything seemed fine with the owner.
Then this cosmetic company offered me my own new store at a location that is 2.5 miles away. Suddenly once informed the owner has become hostile. I kind of understand but it is business. Also she has been un-involved with her store, I have been solely running it for months. Needless to say I gave my notice and moved on but I still plan to open the new store.
Once I left she called corporate and made many claims that I was sabotaging her. Absolutely untrue I worked very hard. She claims I ran reports with out her permission....and stole a customer list. Any reports I ran were either while I was working there or while I thought I was purchasing it. I was also given her password to access any reports. I don't trust this women and I would like to move on and forward. I just worry if can she do anything to m,e if I open a store also. By the way she has been closed since Oct. 25th but no one knows if that is permanently or not. I also have reason to believe she paid some employees in cash and may have been cooking the books. She was not even paying rent or sales tax while I was working there and left me to deal with that.

Answer
Hello christina,

Before I respond further to your question, I must make clear that I do not represent you, and cannot give you individual particularized legal advice. No attorney client relationship is created by this email. For legal advice, you should hire your own attorney, and follow their advice. My role with AllExperts is limited to providing general information and suggestions for educational or general knowledge purposes. Before you take any action, consult with your own attorney.

Further, I am not licensed in your state, and am accordingly not knowledgeable about your state's laws.

It seems to me that your potential liability would only stem from any contract you had with your former employer, such as a non-compete agreement, or a confidentiality agreement, etc.  If you signed a non-compete, it is possible that your former employer could sue you for opening a similar store a few miles away if that is violative of the provisions thereof.  Likewise, if you signed a confidentiality agreement, and your use of customer data could be considered violative thereof, your former employer might sue you for that.  Otherwise, I'm not aware of a cause of action against you that would seem valid under the facts you describe.  In fact, it occurs to me that certain anti-trust and restraint of trade laws promote free and fair competition.  One non-contractual concern would be tortious interference, so you should take care to keep things "just business" as you say, and not do anything particularly dastardly or unfair.  See for example:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tortious_interference.

I suggest that as part of your good practice and due diligence in setting up your new business, you prudently invest a little time and money with an attorney licensed in your state to review not only this area of concern, but to give you some general advice and instructions about the laws and opportunities for mistakes in commencing your operation.  

I hope this helps, good luck to you.

Morgan Smith
SMITH & RAVER LLP
Minneapolis, Minnesota
http://smith-and-raver-llp.biz
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Civil/Commercial Litigation (Lawsuits)

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Morgan Smith

Expertise

Civil litigation (contract claims, landlord-tenant actions, forfeiture suits, residential construction defect matters), Family law (divorce, custody modifications, child support modifications, and pre-nuptial agreement), new business start-ups, civil forfeiture, asset forfeiture. Please do not submit your question as Private. It is my policy not to answer Private questions from members of the public here on AllExperts; I reserve that function to my private clients. Although AllExperts permits me to change your questions from Private to Public, it is my policy not to do that. I encourage you to resubmit your question as a public question. Your public question has the potential to help others with similar concerns. I suggest that you use a pretend name and otherwise alter sensitive facts that make you inclined to treat your question as Private, and submit your question to me Publicly.

Experience

I've been practicing law in the State of Minnesota since 1995. I've worked in skyscraper firms, and now my own small firm in Minneapolis. Past answers from my earlier participation on AllExperts is posted at: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Civil-Commercial-Litigation-911/indexExp_80217.htm

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AllExperts, Yahoo Answers, http://smith-and-raver-llp.biz/News.html

Education/Credentials
J.D. William Mitchell College of Law, St Paul, MN

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