NEW YORK Agency.com has filed a lawsuit against iCrossing, its CEO and nine other employees over what it characterizes as illegal client and employee poaching.
The lawsuit alleges that iCrossing CEO Don Scales, who exited as Agency.com's CEO in February 2006, violated terms of his separation agreement by taking an executive post at iCrossing a month later and proceeding to woo Agency.com employees and clients. The actions, according to the complaint filed in state court in Dallas on Nov. 5, led to the closing of the Agency.com Dallas office and "decimated" its Chicago outpost.
The complaint asks for $19.5 million in damages. An agency representative said it just received the complaint Friday and is reviewing it. (Download the complaint.)
Omnicom Group's Agency.com and Scales have been at loggerheads following his ouster from Agency.com in February 2006. Over a dozen former Agency.com employees eventually followed Scales to iCrossing, an independent digital agency looking to grow beyond its roots in search marketing. In that time, Agency.com has suffered declining fortunes, including client losses and the abrupt departure of Scales' successor, David Eastman, who was replaced by Agency.com founder Chan Suh in April 2007.
A month after Scales joined iCrossing, eight Agency.com executives followed him to the firm. In July, the two agencies reached a settlement that made some Agency.com employees off-limits to iCrossing until January 2008. ICrossing went on to hire several more Agency.com staffers, according to the suit.
The lawsuit alleges that some employees recruited by Scales to iCrossing recruited Agency.com clients before leaving the firm. It alleges former Agency.com vp of business development Marlin Jackson helped iCrossing obtain projects from Marriott while still employed by Agency.com.
Agency.com alleges the actions were a "scheme devised by Scales and iCrossing to intentionally and systematically strip Agency.com of some of its best employees and to steal the company's customers."