AME International has filed a motion seeking to add a counterclaim of defamation against ESCO, which is suing the fledgling company for allegedly stealing company information and inventory.
ESCO, a 23-year-old international wholesaler of specialty tire changing equipment, is suing AME, a competitor founded last July, and two former employees, Keith Jarman and Tim Benoist, who started the new Brooksville-based company.
ESCO, also based in Brooksville, claims the defendants violated Florida's Trade Secrets Act and Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act when they allegedly took company information, trade secrets and inventory before resigning to launch AME last year.
In January ESCO claimed a minor victory in obtaining a ruling by Hernando County (Fla.) Circuit Court that suspended use of an ESCO eBay store account the company operated as ``usaoverstocks'' for seven years. The suit alleged the defendants changed the passwords and access information to the eBay account as well as changed the account name to ``usaautomotiveequipment.''
ESCO said it is seeking undetermined monetary damages as well as temporary and permanent injunctions against the defendants from allegedly using ESCO's trade secrets, misappropriated information and materials.
AME is seeking to add defamation claims against ESCO in its defense of the lawsuit, the company said.
Mr. Jarman, AME president, said correspondences issued by ESCO to vendors and customers ``were especially bold, making numerous untrue allegations and also misstating developments in the case. They clearly are an attempt to smear my good name in the tire industry.''
ESCO President Shirley Jordan claimed in a statement that the defendents ``solicitated our customers using confidential information in an effort to take business away from ESCO.''