The Irving family is continuing its long tradition of heavy-handed legal attacks on former employees. Last week, one division of the billionaire family’s holdings, Irving Shipyards Incorporated, which runs the Halifax Shipyard, filed suit against its former senior project manager, Jared Newcombe. Last year, the Halifax yard was awarded a $25 billion contract to construct military and coast guard ships.
Newcombe quit his job at Irving on April 28, 2013, announcing that he had accepted a job as chief operating officer at Davie Shipyard in Quebec. The ISI lawsuit alleges that, before he left Irving, Newcombe “downloaded and/or copied numerous documents and electronic records from the ISI server to a personal removable storage device. Such documents and electronic records are the property of ISI and contain sensitive confidential information about ISI and its operations.”
The lawsuit says Irving learned that Newcombe had taken a documents when it acted on an Anton Piller Order against another former ISI exec John Schmidt, who had earlier left Irving for a job as vice president of sales at Davie. An Anton Piller Order is a sort of privately executed search warrant issued without prior notice to the target of the warrant, in order to prevent destruction of evidence.
The lawsuit alleges that Newcombe was in conversation with Schmidt before Newcombe left Irving, and the documents he allegedly took would give Davie a competitive advantage. The allegations have not been proven in court, and Newcombe has not yet replied to them.
The legal actions against Newcombe and Schmidt are reminiscent of the Irving’s reaction when Ken Langdon quit his job with the Irvings in 2007. Langdon was publisher of the Woodstock, New Bunswick Bugle-Observer, part of the Irving-owned Brunswick News empire. After he left to start his own publication, the Carleton FreePress, the Irvings sued Langdon, also alleging that Langdon had stolen confidential company documents and information. Langdon ultimately prevailed in that legal battle, but he was unable to keep the FreePress afloat in the face of the Irvings’ aggressive low rates for advertisers.