Attorney: Cos Bar case doesn’t smell right
An attorney for the Aspen woman under court order to stop using Cos Bar’s client list cast doubt on the boutique’s case during a hearing Thursday.
“We’re going to want to know what the factual basis for Cos Bar’s assertion that they’ve made in the media that my client’s a thief,” said Sander Karp, a longtime Glenwood Springs lawyer known to take on high-profile employment and civil-rights cases.
Karp expressed urgency to get the matter resolved in the wake of Judge Gail Nichols’ temporary restraining order entered April 3. The order, enforceable for 14 days, forbids defendant and former Cos Bar employee Elizabeth McGuire-Chappell from using the retailer’s client contact information. Cos Bar deals with high-end perfumes, cosmetics and spa-type services.
McGuire-Chappell has denied any wrongdoing.
“This is causing very much harm to my client,” Karp said. “For the most part, there’s no basis for this case.”
Karp’s remarks came during a teleconference hearing as Nichols listened in from her chambers.
Cos Bar filed suit April 2 against McGuire-Chappell alleging she used its client database to solicit customers to her new place of employment, Ultimate Salon. McGuire-Chappell was fired after 14 years under Cos Bar’s employ in February, the lawsuit says.
Cos Bar attorney Chris Bryan said McGuire-Chappell essentially committed theft by contacting Cos Bar clients for her own business gain.
Part of McGuire-Chappell’s email said she worked at Ultimate Salon, had purchased a hydra-facial machine and “will be offering all services at a more reasonable price.”
The emails in question violated the terms of Cos Bar’s employee handbook, which McGuire-Chappell signed when she worked there, the lawsuit alleges. That’s because the email’s recipients were Cos Bar clients whose contact information was confidential, the suit says.
“For the most part, this is going to be a legal issue,” Karp said. “Bryan has alleged my client had a written confidentiality agreement.”
Nichols’ order cites Colorado statute that defines the term “trade secrets” to include “listing of names, addresses or telephone numbers, or other information relating to any business or professional, which is secret and of value.”
At Thursday’s hearing, Bryan said McGuire-Chappell is entitled to conduct business as usual at Ultimate Salon, except for what’s mandated in the court order.
“We do believe that the (temporary restraining order) is expressly clear on the fact that she cannot continue to solicit business using contact information she obtained about Cos Bar customers while she was an employee of Cos Bar, during the existence of the (temporary restraining order) or subsequent injunction.”
Cos Bar will gun for a permanent order to stop McGuire-Chappell from allegedly using the client list. A hearing is set for 10 a.m. Thursday in Pitkin County District Court, where Nichols will first rule on the temporary restraining order before she decides whether to issue Cos Bar injunctive relief.
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