In a bitter legal battle, a Florida dealership can pursue claims that a former finance manager misappropriated trade secrets, fraudulently misrepresented his background and violated confidentiality agreements and a computer fraud law, a federal judge ruled last month.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra refused to dismiss most of a suit by New Country Motor Car Group Inc., doing business as Mercedes-Benz of Palm Beach, against Joseph Beresford, who was hired as a sales consultant in 2010 and promoted to finance manager in 2014.
The West Palm Beach dealership's suit claims Beresford had access to "a plethora of restricted and confidential dealership information" that was subject to company policies. The suit also claims that he signed nondisclosure, noncompete and "safeguarding customer information" agreements.
Meanwhile, Beresford's separate whistleblower suit against the store, New Country Motor Car Group and several top managers is pending in Palm Beach County Circuit Court. The defendants have asked for the case to be dismissed.
It alleges a range of illegal or unethical practices to increase commissions, bonuses and other compensation. That includes forging customers' signatures on sales and lease documents, inflating customers' income on financing applications, failing to disclose extended warranties and other add-ons, and fabrication of customer experience survey results, among other claims.
Both sides deny all wrongdoing.