Former IJGA instructor being sued by parent company

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comMarch 19, 2014 

Peter Orrell.

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A company that runs prominent golf and tennis academies in the Bluffton area is accusing a former International Junior Golf Academy instructor of violating trade secrets, stealing a contact list for golf students and parents, and poaching its students.

Junior Sports Corporation CEO Peter Orrell said his company is suing David Goolsby and Goolsby's Hilton Head Junior Golf Academy to protect "the quality of the experience" for the IJGA's players and their parents.

The company, which includes the IJGA and the Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy, filed suit against its former golf instructor in October seeking unspecified damages.

Goolsby, in a response filed last November by his attorney, Robert Mathison, denied the claims.

Goolsby worked for the IJGA from 2011 to 2013. He started the Hilton Head Junior Golf Academy this past June.

The IJGA started in 1995 and now includes 140 full-time students, according to its website. The full-time program includes golf training and academics at partner Heritage Academy. Players practice at Bluffton's Pinecrest Golf Club and Island West Golf Club.

In a six-page complaint filed by Finger & Fraser law firm in Beaufort County common pleas court, the Junior Sports Corporation alleges that:

  • Goolsby learned the IJGA system and got to know its students and faculty during his time as an employee. He did not have permission to "disclose trade secrets."

  • Goolsby contacted parents of IJGA students and recruited them through lies.

  • He spread lies that the IJGA did not produce results, falsely advertised that his academy could offer online classes to students and stole contact lists to find potential students.

  • He hurt the reputation of Junior Sports Corporation by criticizing IJGA methods.

  • In his response, Goolsby says:

  • He was not an employee of Junior Sports Corporation. Rather, his pay stubs read "International Junior Golf Tour," which also operates under the Junior Sports Corporation.

  • He was trained at the Leadbetter Golf Academy and doesn't teach any techniques similar to the IJGA's.

  • He was not subject to an employment contract, secrecy agreement or non-compete agreement.

  • No trade secrets were identified in the Junior Sports Corporation's complaint.

  • He didn't lie about the IJGA to parents and students.

  • There was no breach of contracts because parents of former IJGA students fulfilled their obligations before leaving.

  • Goolsby's response also says a decline in the IJGA's enrollment began before his departure and is a result of competition from local golf schools and Florida academies. He said the IJGA also lacks certified coaches, provides dirty and unhealthy living conditions, misuses credit cards parents give to students and has not sent enough players on to the college ranks.

    He added that there was no contact lists for him to steal and that his popularity with students is the reason some chose to transfer from the IJGA.

    A potential discovery phase "will bring to the surface numerous documented issues and individuals which will surely be of great interest to most," Goolsby said in a text message. "We, however, desire that they make the wise decision to stop the proceedings before we are required to do what we are very prepared to do."

    Goolsby, through Mathison, asked that the case be dismissed and costs to defend the complaint reimbursed.

    The case is required to go to mediation before a possible jury trial requested by Junior Sports Corporation. The first meeting is required within 300 days of the lawsuit's filing in October.

    Last August, the IJGA parted ways with well-known golf instructor Hank Haney, whose name was on the school. Former Leadbetter Academy instructor Kevin Smeltz was hired to lead instruction at IJGA.

    Follow reporter Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.


    Documents in the case of JSC vs. Goolsby

    JSC v Goolsby Complaint

    JSC v Goolsby Answer

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