A legal skirmish between two physician-recruitment companies has ended with an out-of-court settlement.
In a civil lawsuit filed early last year in Dallas County Court, Irving, Texas-based Martin, Fletcher & Associates charged crosstown rival Merritt, Hawkins & Associates with computer theft for allegedly purchasing confidential trade secrets from a fired Martin, Fletcher employee (July 9, 2001, p. 14). It also asserted that the ex-employee tried unsuccessfully to recruit a female worker at Martin, Fletcher to file false sexual harassment charges against her bosses.
A settlement agreement reached in February was characterized as a victory by Merritt, Hawkins' lawyer, who said the settlement awarded no damages and did not acknowledge wrongdoing on Merritt, Hawkins' part. "We have maintained from the beginning that this suit was completely without merit," said Mike Richardson of the Dallas law firm Rose Walker.
Merritt, Hawkins agreed to drop a countersuit that alleged that Martin, Fletcher was guilty of misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract.
Russell Hicks, president of Martin, Fletcher, maintained that his firm's allegations were true but said the settlement "protects our interests in the future." Hicks and Martin, Fletcher Chief Executive Officer John Buffa were former Merritt, Hawkins vice presidents who created their own competing firm in 1998. An earlier suit was settled in 1999.