By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
A judge recently handed down an injunction prohibiting a Sharon man, his wife and two companies associated with the wife from working in the tabletop advertising business within 100 miles of Sharon.
The ruling against Wendell L. Ponder, 93 Second Ave., Sharon; Catrina Ponder, 425 N. Mercer Ave., Sharpsville; T-N-T Enterprises; and II Enterprise is good for two years.
ABC Advertising Agency Inc., Sedalia, Mo., sued Wendell Ponder Feb. 18 alleging breach of contract, fraud and other charges.
ABC designs, makes and sells tabletop advertising displays and entered into an independent contractor agreement with Wendell Ponder Oct. 31.
Wendell Ponder was hired to solicit and procure tabletop ads in restaurants around Sharon, ABC said.
Ponder secured deals to place tabletop ads for Daffin’s Candies and Warehouse Sales, both in Sharon, at Our Gang’s Lounge, Sharon, but diverted most of the money collected to II Enterprises, a company Catrina Ponder owns, ABC said.
Wendell Ponder testified he never signed the Daffin’s contract.
Catrina Ponder also corresponded and/or met with ABC and local clients. ABC said it is not unusual for the spouse of an independent contractor to help conduct the business.
Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert G. Yeatts held an injunction hearing March 20, at which Wendell Ponder argued the noncompetition clause in his contract was too broad in terms of time and distance.
Yeatts found the noncompete covenant valid, despite the lack of notarization. However, he did not set the injunction’s location and time constraints based on the contract. Instead, he used as a guide the testimony of an ABC representative that most of their independent salesmen work within two hours of home.
Although the injunction was only sought against Wendell Ponder, Yeatts said he had the power to extend the prohibition to his wife and her companies – she owns T-N-T Enterprises – because Catrina Ponder held herself out to be working with her husband through his contract with ABC.
ABC has since amended its suit to add Catrina Ponder and her companies as defendants.