19 Jun 2012

Ex-employees ordered to pay $4.29m in damages

2:51 pm on 19 June 2012

An Employment Court has ordered the largest damages payment ever awarded in a New Zealand employment case.

The court in Ashburton has told three men to pay their former employer $4.29 million in damages for setting up their own contracting company in competition.

Kelvin McTague, Clarence Whiting and Kerry Bartlett were employed by South Canterbury-based Rooney Earthmoving when they set up a competitor, BMW Contracting.

Judge Barry Travis found in favour of Rooney Earthmoving in a 2009 hearing, but the Canterbury earthquakes meant the decision on damages was delayed.

He found the Ashburton-based trio had deliberately established BMW Contracting, had solicited other employees to join them, obtained a client list and quoted construction jobs to potential clients with the intention of undercutting their former employer.

The solicitor for Garry Rooney, Roger Brown, says the aim now is to recover the damages from now-liquidated BMW Contracting through the High Court.