In California, LEED Consulting Firm Files Unfair Competition Suit Against Former Employees

*This article originally appeared at our sister publication, the Green Real Estate Law Journal.

There’s quite a bit of value in LEED consulting these days; take Thornton-Tomasetti’s recent acquisition of Portland, Maine-based green building consultants Fore Solutions, for example. But a recent lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of California’s Central Division in San Diego paints a darker underbelly of the green building consulting business. For participants in the booming LEED certification market, the suit emphasizes the importance of diligently managing business risks, particularly in a doggedly soft economy.

The plaintiff in Drew George & Partners, Inc. v. Farmer et al. (Case No. 37-2011-00101909) has filed an 8-count complaint againts two of its former employees and their new green building consultancy for, among other things, unfair competition and breach of contract. DGP is a LEED consulting and commissioning firm, and the allegations in its complaint are relatively straightforward: it claims that two former employees diverted business opportunities to their new company while still in DGP’s employ.

Of particular interest, the complaint also alleges that the defendants misappropriated the plaintiff’s proprietary “LEED Scorecard:” an “approximately twenty-page document that DGP, at substantial time and expense, created in order to manage all technical aspects of LEED consulting assignments” which “consolidates the information typically included in meeting minutes and/or status reports into one project status tracking tool.” While still employed by DGP, the defendants allegedly “devised a plan to set up a competing LEED consulting firm and to rapidly acquire new business by raiding [the plaintiff’s] current and prospective clients.”

The suit was filed on December 2, 2011; no additional details appear presently available but we’ll follow up if anything else of interest arises in connection with the matter. A copy of the complaint is available upon request.



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