As a new owner of a business, what are my options if one of the former owners continues to use a business list that I now own?

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As a new owner of a business, what are my options if one of the former owners continues to use a business list that I now own?

I bought a customer list from 1 of the 2 owners of an old business. The other former owner is now using that list for his new business. The contract that I have is pretty clear that I am now the sole owner of the list. What are my options?

Asked on May 26, 2011 under Business Law, Florida

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You could file a lawsuit for breach of contract.  You could also  include separate additional causes of action (claims) in your lawsuit for interference with prospective advantage which is unfair competition, interference with the contract, and inducing breach of contract if specific identifiable customers with whom you entered into a contract have been lost due to the former owner's use of the list.

Your damages (monetary compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit) would be the contract price (you paid for the list) for breach of contract.  Damages for interference with prospective advantage and inducing breach of contract would be the lost income from the specific identifiable customers you lost due to the former owner. 

Generally, a new business has difficulty establishing lost income without specific, identifiable customers, but in your situation, the list can provide evidence of those customers you have lost and damages could be ascertained from their lost income.


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