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Christopher Bjorke, Forum Communications, Published September 19 2012

Company sues ex-manager, North Dakota Trade Office

A Minnesota manufacturer is suing its former general manager who is the current head of the North Dakota Trade Office for allegedly breaking agreements signed with the company.

Mattracks, based in Karlstad, Minn., filed a lawsuit against former employee Dean Gorder and the North Dakota Trade Office in Minnesota District Court in Kittson County on Sept. 5.

According to Mattracks’ complaint, Gorder violated confidentiality and noncompetition agreements signed at the time of his hiring that barred him from using contacts or information made as an employee to the benefit of another company. The agreement also barred him from recruiting Mattracks employees after leaving the company.

Gorder commented on the suit through a Trade Office spokeswoman Monday.

“These complaints completely lack merit, and we are confident that they will be dismissed,” according to Gorder’s statement.

The suit asks that the defendants pay $50,000 plus interest and other costs and stop any actions it says violate Gorder’s contracts with Mattracks.

Mattracks is a producer of vehicle tread assemblies with connections to international markets. The Trade Office, based in Fargo, promotes international business opportunities for North Dakota companies.

Multiple complaints

According to Mattracks’ complaint:

Gorder worked as general manager of Mattracks from 2004 to 2010. He became executive director of the Trade Office shortly after leaving the company.

When he was hired by Mattracks, he signed the confidentiality and noncompetition agreement. He acknowledged that agreement when he signed a termination agreement when he left the company to join the Trade Office.

The suit describes several times in which Gorder allegedly broke his agreements with the company. These include using information on Mattracks business in China and Turkey to benefit other companies; pursuing deals with Mattracks business associates for his own benefit; recruiting Mattracks employees to leave the company; and receiving confidential information from a company employee after his resignation.

For each alleged violation Mattracks claims “substantial and irreparable harm and damages.”