O'Fallon photographer claims former employee violating non-compete clause

Andrea Dearden Jul. 26, 2012, 1:46am


An O'Fallon photography studio wants a former employee to pay for a loss of business and prevent her from using its property to steal clients.

Salvatore Cincotta Photography Inc. filed a lawsuit June 28 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Ashley Schank.

Salvatore Cincotta Photography hired Schank in October 2011 to be an independent contractor for the studio, an agreement that went into effect in January 2012 and was expected to last until December 2015, the complaint reads. The agreement allegedly contained a non-compete clause prohibiting the Granite City woman from working for or starting another photography business within 150 miles of O'Fallon for a full year after the end of the contract. Salvatore Cincotta claims the contract also called for the return of all proprietary information to the company when the contract became void.

In May, Schank allegedly ended her employment with Salvatore Cincota, with more than three years left on the contract. The company claims it had nearly 30 weddings scheduled for which Schank was expected to work, at a cost of almost $6,000 per booking. Because of Schank's early departure Salvatore Cincotta says it lost at least four wedding contracts, was forced to return deposits on several others and had to provide free pictures to other clients in order to mitigate its damages.

Salvatore Cincotta Photography accuses Schank of breach of contract and interference with prospective clients. It also asks for an injunction to prevent Schank from using the property of the company, such as pictures and images, that she is allegedly using for personal benefit. The studio would like a judgement to enforce the non-compete clause as well. It seeks more than $200,000 in damages plus court costs.

Attorneys Joel P. Green and Raven J. Akram of St. Louis represent the photography studio

St. Clair County Circuit Court Case No. 12-L-337

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