United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
MOONRACER, INC. d/b/a SYNAPTIS, Plaintiff,
JORDAN N. COLLARD, Defendant. IT CONVERGENCE, Plaintiff,
MOONRACER, INC. d/b/a SYNAPTIS, Defendant.
TERRENCE W. BOYLE, District Judge.
This cause comes before the Court on plaintiff Synaptis' motion for summary judgment. Also pending is Synaptis' motion to compel deposition, mediation, and for sanctions. The appropriate responses and replies have been filed and the motions are ripe for adjudication. For the reasons discussed below, the motion for summary judgment is granted and the motion to compel is denied.
Synaptis is an information technology company located in Cary, North Carolina. Synaptis provides consulting, support, and training for business related software manufactured by Oracle, called a User Productivity Kit. Synaptis employed Jordan Collard from September 2009 through April 15, 2013, when it terminated Collard's employment. Collard began his employment with Synaptis as a business development manager and left as Vice President of Sales. Collard signed a conditions of employment agreement with Synaptis that contains non-competition, non-solicitation, and confidentiality provisions (non-compete agreement). After leaving Synaptis, Collard took a job in Nevada with IT Convergence, a company which Synaptis contends is a direct competitor.
Synaptis filed the instant action in Wake County Superior Court alleging a claim for breach of contract and seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction which would prevent Collard from working for IT Convergence or alternatively enforce the non-competition agreement for a period of one year from the date of the injunction. Superior Court Judge Manning denied Synaptis' request for a temporary restraining order and Collard removed the action to this Court under its diversity jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. This Court denied Synaptis' motion for preliminary injunction. In his answer, Collard alleges the following counterclaims against Synaptis: breach of contract; violation of the North Carolina Wage & Hour Act, N.C. Gen.Stat. § 95-25.2(16); breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; unjust enrichment; tortious interference with contract; and unfair and deceptive trade practices.
IT Convergence filed suit against Synaptis in San Mateo County, California seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and alleging claims for intentional interference with contract and violations of California Business and Professions Code §§ 17200, et seq. That action was removed to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and was subsequently transferred to this Court in light of the pending litigation between Synaptis and Collard. No. 5:13-CV-852-BO. This Court consolidated both actions by order entered February 20, 2014.
I. MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Synaptis seeks summary judgment in its favor on all claims against it brought by defendant Jordan Collard and plaintiff IT Convergence. A motion for summary judgment may not be granted unless there are no genuine issues of material fact for trial and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If that burden has been met, the non-moving party must then come forward and establish the specific material facts in dispute to survive summary judgment. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 588 (1986). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists for trial, a trial court views the evidence and the inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007). However, "[t]he mere existence of a scintilla of evidence" in support of the nonmoving party's position is not sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment; "there must be evidence on which the [fact finder] could reasonably find for the [nonmoving party]." Anderson v. LibertyLobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986). Speculative or conclusory allegations will not suffice. Thompson v. Potomac Elec. Power Co., 312 F.3d 645, 649 (4th Cir. 2002).
A. Collard's Counterclaims
Synaptis has demonstrated that it is entitled to summary judgment in its favor on each of Collard's counterclaims.
Collard's first four counterclaims - breach of contract, violation of the North Carolina Wage & Hour Act, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and unjust enrichment - each have to do with Collard's claim that he was not paid for unused accrued vacation time, commissions, and a bonus payment pursuant to the Incentive Bonus Program.
N.C. Gen. Stat § 95-25.12 governs vacation and paid time off and requires that employers notify employees of any policy or practice that requires or results in loss or forfeiture of paid time off or vacation time. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 95-25.7 governs bonuses and commissions, and requires that such wages may not be forfeited unless the employee has been notified. N.C. Gen Stat. § 95-25.13 requires that employers make available, in writing or through a posted notice, their employment practices regarding promised wages.
The Synaptis Policies and Procedures manual, which Collard acknowledged by his signature receiving and reading on September 28, 2009, provides that "[i]n the event of a termination (voluntary or involuntary), unused [paid time off] will be immediately forfeited, and the employee will not receive a payout for unused [paid time off]." [DE 81-3 at 10; 18 of 24]. Synaptis' Fiscal Year 2010 compensation plan, which Collard acknowledged by his signature receiving, provides that "[u]pon termination... [employees] will be paid applicable commissions fully earned and payable as of the termination date for sales for which payments have been collected." [DE 81-3 at 20; 21 of 24]. ...