The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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May 11, 2013

Judge’s ruling shuts pool service down

SHENANGO VALLEY — A judge this week issued an injunction effectively shutting down a local pool service company.

While the company’s attorney tried a legal maneuver to nullify the order, the judge issued a new order Friday that reaffirmed it.

Barber’s Chemicals Inc., Sharpsville, which is owned by Edward L. “Lee” Earnhardt III, filed suit April 9 against Earnhardt’s brother, Richard L. Earnhardt, Thomas Siar - both former employees of Barber’s Chemicals - and their company, PA Pool Service, which also services pools.

Barber’s Chemicals, which also sells to and serves industrial chemical users and water and wastewater plants, alleged breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets. The defendants denied the allegations in their answer and filed a counterclaim alleging breach of contract.

Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert G. Yeatts held an injunction hearing April 30 and issued an order Monday granting the injunction to Barber’s.

One of the provisions of the injunction is that Richard Earnhardt and PA Pool Service are forbidden from operating a competing business within 250 miles of Barber’s, 950 W. Main St., Sharpsville.

PA Pool Service has been based at 389 Lyle Drive, Hermitage.

Yeatts’ order also said the injunction would become effective once Barber’s posts a $10,000 bond.

Wednesday, Richard Earnhardt’s attorney, William G. McConnell Jr., filed notice of appeal to Superior Court. McConnell also sent an email to Lee Earnhardt’s attorneys, Richard W. Epstein and Sarah C. Kellogg, notifying them that the appeal had been filed and stating that Yeatts’ order “has been invalidated” by the appeal because it was filed before Lee Earnhardt had posted the bond. He cited case law in backing his position.

Epstein fired back Thursday with an emergency motion asking Yeatts to amend his order and set a date in which the bond had to be in place. Earlier that day, Epstein filed notice that the bond had been obtained.

Epstein argued that McConnell’s interpretation of the case law “leads to absurd results.”

“If such were the law, defendants anticipating the issuance of an injunction against them could simply file the notice of appeal immediately upon issuance of the order for injunctive release, and thereby circumvent the order.”

Epstein said he filed the motion on an emergency basis out of concern that Richard Earnhardt “will begin competing with Barber’s again in violation of the preliminary injunction order.”

Yeatts issued a new order Friday identical to his Monday order except that it set a deadline of May 13 in which to post the bond.

 “I’ve received and made my client aware of the court’s May 10 order,” McConnell said. “That’s it. That’s all I can say.”

While the injunction had been granted, the underlying claims in the lawsuits will progress.

Epstein declined to comment. “I can’t speak about pending litigation,” he said.

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