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Sunday, February 23, 2020

Auto parts retailer seeks to dismiss lawsuit alleging employee pocketed proceeds by converting inventory

By Heather Gvillo | Jun 2, 2015

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United Auto Parts seeks to dismiss a lawsuit alleging one of its employees misrepresented the amount of inventory owned by a Belleville auto dealer.

According to the Jan. 30 complaint, plaintiff Oliver C. Joseph, owner of BTJ Enterprises, claims his company entered into an agreement with United Auto Parts and Bob Lelly for the purchase of various pieces of inventory. In turn, Lelly agreed to work for Joseph and then agreed to be leased to BTJ to continue running and operating United Auto Parts on behalf of BTJ.

During this time, Lelly allegedly provided a written inventory and was exclusively responsible for maintaining and accounting for the inventory for United Auto Parts, the suit states.

When Lelly left his position on Dec. 5, 2013, Joseph had a physical inventory taken and found that roughly $80,000 in inventory was missing, the complaint states.

“Plaintiff believes that the defendants are responsible for the shortfall as the defendants inflated the value of the inventory at the time of plaintiff’s purchase and that defendant Bob Lelly converted inventory/money during his employment with plaintiff,” the suit states.

Joseph accuses Lelly of developing a scheme to purchase inventory with BTJ’s money and fail to account for it in the computer inventory system, which would allow Lelly to pocket the proceeds. The complaint also accuses Lelly of diverting customers away from BTJ.

“Not long after defendant Lelly left the employment of the plaintiff (less than one year), the plaintiff noticed a significant decrease not only in business, but in phone calls and prior customers’ willingness to do business with the plaintiff,” the suit states. “On information and belief, plaintiff suspects that defendant Lelly interfered with plaintiff’s relationship with their customers in violation of the non-solicitation provisions of the employment agreement.”

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on Feb. 27 through attorney Robert G. Jones of The Jones Law Firm in Belleville.

They argue that the plaintiffs filed their complaint based on the alleged existence of a written contract and written employment agreement. However, they claim no documentation of the alleged written contract or employment agreement was found. Additionally, the alleged documents were not attached to the complaint, as required by Illinois law.

Therefore, the defendants claim dismissal is proper.

Additionally, the defendants filed a request to produce the documents relied upon in the complaint. They also request all communications with defendants – including written communications, computer files, tape recordings and videotape recordings, among others.

Circuit Judge Robert LeChien scheduled a status conference to address the issues on July 15 at 8:30 a.m.

Joseph seeks $230,000, plus attorneys’ fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Joseph is represented by Matthew J. Marlen of Belleville.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 15-L-50

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