Baton Rouge Company Sues Former VP for Stealing Business: Lawsuit

by | Sep 29, 2021 | Business Feature

A construction company in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is suing a former employee after discovering he had spent a year stealing money and clients for his father’s rival business, according to a lawsuit.

Coastal Bridge LLC is seeking damages from Devon Overall, the company’s former Vice President of the Marine Structures Division. Coastal Bridge claims that Overall spent a year actively undermining the company for the benefit of his father’s business, Coastal Contractors Inc., the lawsuit said.

Devon Overall was in negotiations with his father, Bobby Overall, to purchase Coastal Contractors, according to the lawsuit, and actively sabotaged operations at Coastal Bridge in order to boost business at his father’s company.

Foremost among Coastal Bridge’s complaints is that Overall essentially stole a land lease for Plaquemine Yard, a crucial part of the company’s business as it provided access to Plaquemine Bayou, the lawsuit said.

It was Overall’s job to ensure the renewal of the lease every five years for Coastal Bridge. Instead, when the lease was up for renewal in 2019, Overall convinced the owners of Plaquemine Yard to give the lease to Coastal Contractors, the lawsuit said.

Overall accomplished this by using his position at Coastal Bridge, through his email and cell phone, and making “blatant misrepresentations” about the history of the lease to Plaquemine Yard’s owners, A. Wilbert’s Sons, the lawsuit said.

“Specifically, Overall touted the Wilbert’s long-standing relationship as being with the Overalls as opposed to Coastal Bridge and that the Overalls were now operating as Coastal Contractors doing bridge construction work,” the lawsuit said. “He further represented that Coastal Bridge had been purchased by an employee in the road division and that all parties had agreed that Coastal Contractors would take over the bridge division and Coastal Bridge would continue with the road division. This statement by Overall is false.”

But Overall wasn’t finished, according to the lawsuit.

He also spent much of 2019 diverting business away from Coastal Bridge to Coastal Contractors instead, using his positions at both companies, and often switching to a different email or phone number “when that became advantageous,” the lawsuit said.

For example, Overall organized a contract job for one of Coastal Bridge’s clients, Mammoet USA South, using a crane owned by Coastal Bridge, but then invoiced the $6,000 fee to Coastal Contractors, the lawsuit said.

When another Coastal Bridge employee received complaints about certain work activities at Plaquemine yard, and asked Overall if he knew what was going on, Overall feigned ignorance, according to the lawsuit.

Overall responded in an email included in the lawsuit: “We have nothing to do with it but I just tried calling mammoet to see if it’s them and I’m waiting to hear back.”

“Of course, Overall knew exactly who it was because he had recently completed a job for Mammoet at the Plaquemine Yard on behalf of Coastal Contractors,” the lawsuit said. “Overall’s response to Coastal Bridge was blatantly false.”

When Coastal Bridge President Kelly Sills discovered in January 2020 what had happened with the Plaquemine Yard lease, he immediately contacted Robert Overall, the president of Coastal Contractors and Overall’s father.

The following is the email Sills received from Robert Overall:

When I was advised the lease had been expired and no rent paid for 3 months into 2019, I inquired with the Wilbert’s representative if they would lease to Coastal Contractors, which they agreed to. The lease was backdated to 1/1/2019 and entered into. I felt it would be of value to Coastal Contractors as we move forward, and did not want to risk the possibility of losing the site all together. Coastal Bridge is welcome to use the site as needed until further notice if the situation changes.

Overall’s “breach of fiduciary duty” entitles Coastal Bridge to damages, as well as the restoration of the Plaquemine Yard lease and the “lost profits, equipment rental and depreciation, and for essentially driving Coastal Bridge out of business it had enjoyed at least from the 1980’s at the Plaquemine Yard location,” the lawsuit said.

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