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August 31, 2018 | last updated September 4, 2018 7:59 am

Vets First Choice, co-defendants, granted more time to respond to IDEXX lawsuit

Photo / Mainebiz archives
Photo / Mainebiz archives
CEO Benjamin Shaw of Vets First Choice is shown in his Portland office in this file photo from the Mainebiz archives.

Direct Vet Marketing Inc. (DBA Vets First Choice) and the two co-defendants named in a federal lawsuit filed by IDEXX Laboratories earlier this month have asked for more time to respond to allegations made in IDEXX's 32-page lawsuit filed Aug. 3 in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine.

Vets First Choice and the two former IDEXX employees named in the lawsuit, Dan Leach and Agostino Scicchitano, requested an extension to Oct. 1 of their deadline to respond to Westbrook-based IDEXX's lawsuit alleging "actual and/or threatened misappropriation of trade secrets" and seeking an unspecified amount of monetary damages, including punitive damages and legal fees.

The defendants filed their motions within the Aug. 30 deadline originally set by the court for their initial responses.

"Defendants require additional time to gather the necessary information to properly respond to the complaint, which is 166 paragraphs long," according to court documents filed on Aug. 29. "This requested extension is sought in good faith and not for the purposes of undue delay or prejudice. All parties, after conferring, have agreed to extend the deadline to answer, move, or otherwise respond to plaintiff's complaint to Oct. 1, 2018."

Vets First Choice's response

Bill Durling, vice president of corporate communications for Vets First Choice, sent the following written statement to Mainebiz over the Labor Day holiday weekend:

"The parties mutually agreed upon this extension, which will provide the defendants with sufficient time to better understand the facts," Durling wrote. "In return, IDEXX avoids the time, effort, and expense of serving its complaint on the individual defendant who had not yet been served with a complaint.

"As our Oct. 1 response will explain, there is no merit to IDEXX's lawsuit. Given Portland's tight-knit and collegial business community, it is unfortunate that IDEXX has chosen this adversarial approach. Vets First Choice will vigorously defend itself against these allegations. Acting with integrity, including protection of intellectual property, data privacy and information security, is a core value at Vets First Choice."

What the lawsuit seeks

IDEXX's lawsuit seeks a jury trial in a case involving Maine's largest publicly traded company and a world leader in veterinary diagnostic testing services and products (IDEXX) and the company co-founded by IDEXX founder David Shaw and his son, Benjamin, who serves as Vets First Choice's CEO. Vets First Choice, founded in Portland in 2010, is one of Maine's fastest-growing companies and has more than 750 employees in the United States and 5,100 veterinary practices on its prescription-management platform.

In April, Vets First Choice and Henry Schein Inc. (Nasdaq: HSIC) announced plans for Henry Schein to spin off its animal health business and merge it with Vets First Choice, creating an independent publicly traded company. That transaction has been unanimously approved by the boards of Henry Schein and Vets First Choice and is expected to close by year's end.

In the news release announcing that merger, the two companies said a new publicly traded company would be formed, which would be called Vets First Corp. and will have combined pro forma 2017 sales of approximately $3.6 billion.

The lawsuit alleges that two former IDEXX employees, Dan Leach and Agostino Scicchitano, resigned and hid the fact they were taking jobs with Vets First Choice. "Both apparently downloaded and misappropriated IDEXX's trade secrets within the days leading up to their IDEXX resignation," the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit alleges that the two defendants were among at least nine IDEXX employees hired by Vets First Choice since 2017.

The lawsuit also asserts that "IDEXX stands to lose millions of dollars of intellectual property, and the loss of value of its trade secrets and confidential and proprietary information, which cannot be adequately addressed at law."

Among the legal "relief" items specified in the lawsuit, IDEXX seeks " monetary and punitive damages, require payment of IDEXX's legal fees and ... such further relief as the court seems necessary and just."

Editor's note: The original version of this story has been updated to include a statement from Vets First Choice, which was sent to Mainebiz after the story was published.

Read more

IDEXX sues Vets First Choice, two former employees, over alleged 'misappropriation' of trade secrets

For Vets First Choice, growth is in the DNA

Vets First Choice to merge with spinoff of Fortune 500 company

MTI awards $10.9M in technology grants to seven Maine firms

Vets First Choice will build $20M corporate facility in Portland

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