Carbondale party rental company sues former employees
A prominent party rental company in the valley is suing two of its former employees for allegedly conspiring with one another to misappropriate and exchange what the company calls its “trade secrets.”
Premier Party Rentals, located in Carbondale, is one of the largest event rental businesses in the Roaring Fork Valley, offering tents, tables, chairs, dance floors and other party essentials for myriad events.
On April 6, two of its former employees had lunch at The Pullman restaurant in downtown Glenwood Springs, according to court documents filed by the plaintiff.
During that meeting, according to the claim, Debbie Plucheck, a former employee who was laid off a month before, handed Leann Katchuk, another previous employee who left on her own accord, almost 200 pages of confidential, password-protected client information.
The documents included client names and contact information, previous buyers’ event and supply preferences, and the company’s revenue information, which Premier says comes from years of hard work and cultivation.
During a court hearing in Garfield County District Court on May 3, Kayli Pace, general manager at Premier, said that only assigned employees have access to these kinds of documents and must use three passwords to obtain them.
“This is like a bible to how we get our clients,” she said in court.
Premier Party Rentals and its attorney, Jonah Hunt, maintain that Plucheck was disgruntled after being laid off and provided Katchuk the documents to use at the company she now works for, Event Rents, which is based in Denver but is still a competitor with Premier Party Rentals.
During the aforementioned court hearing, Katchuk told 9th District Judge Denise Lynch that, as Plucheck furnished the court documents she said, “I was doing my taxes and ran across these. Here you go.”
Katchuk said she immediately recognized the documents from working with them previously adding that she was “very surprised” and unsure about why her friend of 13 years had delivered them to her in the first place.
Katchuk and her counsel defend that there was no conspiracy to damage Premier Party Rentals, because she soon after called her supervisor, mailed the documents to him, and he and his superiors returned the papers to Premier Party Rentals.
Her attorneys, Timothy Beyer and Adam Stern, wrote in court documents that this lawsuit is an attempt by Premier to keep Event Rents (where Katchuk works) from competing against it.
The attorneys also say trade secrets must constitute information not accessible to the public, adding that Premier Party Rentals has admitted to publishing client names and other personal information online.
“I don’t have them. I don’t need them. I don’t need to read them,” Katchuk reiterated to Beyer in court at the May 3 hearing. It is still unclear why Plucheck did not appear at the preliminary hearing.
Judge Lynch deposed a preliminary injunction following the hearing. A follow-up hearing in the case is pending.
Premier Party Rentals is asking Judge Lynch to award it any damages proven at trial, and for court and lawyer’s fees accrued during the lawsuit.
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Current owners, struggling with declining breakfast customers and staffing, hope to sell the iconic restaurant near the entrance to Carbondale.