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Dicks v. Jensen

768 A.2d 1279 (2001)

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Dicks v. Jensen

Vermont Supreme Court

768 A.2d 1279 (2001)

Facts

James Dicks (plaintiff) owned a ski lodge. For six years, Dicks employed Cary and Brenda Jensen (defendants) to manage the lodge and to market and run a tour business there. The Jensens worked without a written employment agreement. During nonwinter months, the lodge’s business depended heavily on bus tours of senior-citizen groups. Area hotels and inns competed aggressively for this tour business. The Jensens were responsible for advertising, soliciting, and organizing the bus tours. These duties included mass mailings to senior-citizen groups and additional promotional activities, such as direct phone solicitations to follow up on the mailings. Booking a tour usually involved about a six-month sales cycle. After the phone solicitations, an initial mailing of 10,000 to 15,000 might result in anywhere from 20 to 60 bookings for the lodge. The names of the lodge’s tour-group customers were posted on a reservation board in an office where they could be seen by any employee or visitor. The Jensens left the lodge and opened a competing one in a nearby town. The Jensens contacted the lodge’s customers and solicited their business. Nine of the 11 tours the Jensens booked during their first season were customers who had reservations at the lodge that they canceled in order to rebook with the Jensens. Dicks filed suit, alleging that the Jensens violated the Vermont Trade Secrets Act by soliciting the lodge’s customers. The trial court granted summary judgment to the Jensens, and Dicks appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Johnson, J.)

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