The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

Oil­field ser­vices gi­ant in case against ex-em­ployee

● Sch­lum­berger claim­ing breach of con­tract over move to ri­val

- BY AL­LIS­TER THOMAS Crime · Smith · Texas · Aberdeenshire · Croatia · United States of America · United Kingdom · District Court · Notts County F.C. · Richmond · Schlumberger · David Stokes · Portlethen · Fort Bend County · Bend · Richmond · Smith International

Anorth-east man is be­ing sued by oil­field ser­vices gi­ant Sch­lum­berger for $1mil­lion after they claimed he left the firm to work for a ri­val.

David Stokes was em­ployed with Smith In­ter­na­tional in Texas from 2013 un­til May this year when he left to work for Aberdeen-based Ar­dyne Tech­nolo­gies.

But the Sch­lum­berger sub­sidiary ar­gues his move was in breach of a non-com­pete agree­ment he signed and are tak­ing him to court. Sch­lum­berger claims Ar­dyne’s work in well aban­don­ment is con­sid­ered to be their “di­rect com­pe­ti­tion”.

How­ever Mr Stokes, now based in Portlethen, said there is “no case to an­swer” as a Sch­lum­berger HR ad­viser as­sured him dur­ing his exit in­ter­view that his move to Ar­dyne did not breach the agree­ment.

In an of­fi­cial re­sponse to the al­le­ga­tions, Mr Stokes added he was forced to leave the US in May as his work­ing visa was com­ing to an end.

He said it had made it dif­fi­cult to re­main as Sch­lum­berger had de­clined to file for a green card for him.

Mr Stokes said he has now left Ar­dyne in or­der to “try to min­imise and re­move” the ac­tion against him.

He said he be­lieved his res­ig­na­tion from Ar­dyne had re­solved the is­sue but last night Sch­lum­berger said the lit­i­ga­tion was “on­go­ing” and would not com­ment fur­ther.

The com­pany is also seek­ing a le­gal in­junc­tion against the for­mer em­ployee forc­ing him to re­turn data stor­age de­vices with con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion, along with stop­ping them from be­ing deleted or dis­closed else­where.

Sch­lum­berger said he had “ex­ten­sive ac­cess” to in­for­ma­tion like de­signs, soft­ware and pro­to­types, which could lead to the loss of busi­ness, good­will and trade secrets.

Mr Stokes de­scribed th­ese claims as “overly broad” and said they came after he told Sch­lum­berger he had found a hard drive while un­pack­ing in the UK.

He has since re­turned this.

He also con­ceded there may be flash drives in his ship­ping con­tainer which he is still to re­ceive from the US.

The case is pend­ing before the 400th Ju­di­cial

Dis­trict Court of Fort Bend County, sit­ting in Rich­mond, Texas.

Sch­lum­berger’s $1m law­suit cov­ers dam­ages, le­gal fees and other re­lief, along with the re­quest for the in­junc­tion.

Mr Stokes said that the law­suit is “with­out merit” and “it is with great sad­ness” that the ac­tion has been taken against him.

He added: “l have a great many friends and peers at Sch­lum­berger l re­spect, who I know recog­nise me as a per­son of in­tegrity, trust and I have al­ways and con­tinue to treat my in­dus­try peers with the ut­most re­spect.

“I will con­tinue to do so and re­spect­fully ask the 400th Ju­di­cial Dis­trict to recog­nise that this law­suit is with­out merit.”

 ??  ?? DIS­PUTE: North-east man David Stokes worked for Sch­lum­berger sub­sidiary Smith In­ter­na­tional in Texas
DIS­PUTE: North-east man David Stokes worked for Sch­lum­berger sub­sidiary Smith In­ter­na­tional in Texas

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