A civil complaint was filed on March 24, 2020 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky (Federal Court) by two companies: MANPS, LLC and MCKPS, LLC. Both companies have principal places of business in Wisconsin, but are doing business in the Eastern District of Kentucky, particularly Jackson and Clay Counties. The companies filed a complaint against Robert Goforth, individually, and Unknown Trust (by and through John Gillum, Trustee), Sarah Burchell, individually, Ashley Goforth, individually and Express Care Pharmacy, LLC.
The complaint states that "Defendant, “Unknown Trust of Robert Goforth” is a currently unknown trust into which properties at issue in this suit may have been placed by Robert Goforth, with such trusts believed to be administered by Trustee, John Gillum, Esq., of Somerset, Kentucky. At this time, it is unclear whether Robert Goforth, individually, or the “Unknown Trust” created by Robert Goforth for the benefit of his children, by and through Attorney John Gillum, is the proper defendant."
According to the court document (Case: 6:21-cv-00049-REW-HAI Doc #: 1), the action of the complaint arises primarily because of a potential repudiation of a lease contract. In addition, several other causes of action, including but not limited to, tortious interference (In civil law, a tort is an act that brings harm to someone — one that infringes on the rights of others) with prospective business expectations, tortious interference with contractual relations, slander, and breach of contract are listed as reasons for the complaint. The plaintiffs claim to have been injured in excess of $75,000.00.
MANPS, LLC and MCKPS, LLC (the plaintiffs) are currently renting commercial properties in both Clay County, Kentucky and Jackson County, Kentucky from one or more of the Defendants. As per the lease agreements, the Plaintiffs were to reimburse the Defendant for annual property taxes and insurance. The Plaintiffs claim they have been ready, willing, and able to pay such sums, but have never been provided any amounts by the Defendant, or any other entity or person. The complaint claims that "through counsel, the Defendant, Robert Goforth, individually, has indicated he will proceed to evict the Plaintiffs based upon the Plaintiffs’ allegedly (and false) failure to reimburse him such funds".
The Plaintiffs allege that they have never been presented any such figures to rightfully reimburse the Defendant, Robert Goforth or the trust, whichever is the proper defendant, despite requesting the same several times from Mr. John Gillum, Trustee. The Plaintiff maintains in the court document that he is still ready, willing, and able to pay the same should he so be presented the insurance or property taxes. The document states that "These Defendants (Robert Goforth, seemingly) appear to be absolutely and unequivocally indicating through counsel that he/they will repudiate the lease agreement.” These Defendants have already filed a forcible detainer action, proof is now filed in Jackson County District Court, 21-C-00022. The plaintiffs claim that the defendants have maliciously and intentionally withheld presentment of the property taxes and insurance to either Plaintiff in an attempt to feign its non-payment and for the purpose of wrongfully evicting the companies. The plaintiifs also claim that Goforth is well aware that they will sustain damages in the amount of $452,100.00 should they be so evicted.
The complaint alleges that the Defendants, collectively and individually, have tortiously interfered with the employment contracts that the Plaintiff maintained with its employees, as more than ten such employees have left following the Defendants’ actions in so dissuading these employees from working for Plaintiffs.
The complaint also alleges that the defendants "collectively and individually, so tortiously interfered with several hundred thousand prescriptions of individuals who so used the Plaintiff’s pharmacy and, through both compelling these individuals to stop using Plaintiff’s pharmacy and also by without these individuals’ knowledge and consent simply transferring prescriptions to Express Care Pharmacy."
The complaint claims that the "Defendants, Robert Goforth and Ashley Goforth, along and in tandem with the Defendant Burchell, on behalf of Express Care Pharmacy, LLC have engaged in a civil conspiracy against the Plaintiffs and its members in that they have been tortiously interfering with the Plaintiff’s business and contractual relationships. Such conduct has included approaching Plaintiff’s customers (even going so far as to present to their customers’ homes) and have been disseminating falsehoods concerning the Plaintiff’s financial and corporate status in order to have business turned away from the Plaintiff’s company".
In addition, MANPS, LLC and MCKPS, LLC claim that the Defendants were fully aware of their contracts with their employees and the fact that each such contract includes a covenant not to compete. They allege that regardless, the Defendants, individually and collectively, have attempted (and in some cases, been successful) in so having such customers turned away from utilizing the Plaintiff’s pharmacy. They allege that such conduct constitutes a civil conspiracy. The two companies claim that as a direct and proximate result of the Defendants’ conduct in forming a conspiracy against them for the purpose of anticompetition and to “squeeze” these Plaintiffs out of Clay County, Kentucky they have suffered damages for which they should be compensated, including but not limited to, compensatory, expectation, reliance, and consequential damages.
The fifth cause of action stated in the complaint is alleged slander. MANPS, LLC and MCKPS, LLS claim that the defendants have disseminated falsehoods concerning the state of their business and financial affairs to their employees and clients. They maintain that such defamatory statements would tend to prejudice the companies in their profession or trade. They claim that the defamatory and slanderous statements made by the Defendants, individually and collectively, have been intended to injure the Plaintiff in a business setting within the Clay County, Kentucky community.
MANPS, LLC and MCKPS, LLC also claim that Defendant Burchell engaged in a breach of contract. They state that they entered into a written contract in Clay County, Kentucky, wherein the Defendant Burchell agreed to work for the Plaintiff as a pharmacist at the Plaintiff’s pharmacy in Manchester, Kentucky. The complaint states that in exchange for such employment, the Plaintiff was to pay the Defendant Burchell a salary with benefits in addition to a bonus. According to the document filed in court, in exchange for the salary, the Defendant Burchell signed a confidentiality agreement and agreement not to compete with the Plaintiff for a designated period. During the Defendant Burchell’s employment with the Plaintiff, they maintain she violated her duty of confidentiality and also ended up competing by so gaining employment with the Defendant, Express Care Pharmacy, LLC. They, therefore, allege that both the violation of her confidentiality provision as well as competing constitute a breach of contract with the Plaintiff.
The complaint also seeks punitive damages in the amount of $25,000. They assert that the behavior and actions of the defendants are tantamount to extreme ill will, a disregard for property rights, gross negligence, malice, fraud, oppression, and meant to harm the Plaintiff.
MANPS, LLC and MCKPS, LLC have asked the court for relief as follows:
A. For compensatory damages in excess of $75,000.00;
B. For a temporary injunction prohibiting a Forcible Detainer to be entered during the pendency of this action unless and until he is presented the tax bills and insurance premium and he fails to pay;
C. For reasonable attorney’s fees and costs incurred herein;
D. Trial by Jury;
E. For punitive damages; and,
F. For any and all legal or equitable relief as the Court deems appropriate.
The defendants were given 21 days by the court to answer the complaint from the date it was filed (03/24/21).