Owners of transport and logistics company Via3L Spedition that lost all of its assets and employees over a single weekend have sued its former employees for €6.5 million.
Let us go back in time. Major owners of Via3L Spedition were treated to a shock in early July when they discovered they had lost their trucks, computers, clients, know-how and almost all of their employees in a matter of just a few days.
Owners, led by Meelis Saaresalu, accused former executives of Via3L Spedition Elmer Maas and Lauri Latt, who are rumored to have founded a new company called Nordic Spedition OÜ while still working for Via3L Spedition, of grand larceny. Neither man is formally associated with the board or owners of Nordic Spedition OÜ today.
Now, almost three months later, Via3L Spedition is suing Maas, Latt and the company’s remaining 25 former employees for €6.5 million in damages and late fees.
Via3L Spedition’s counsel from law firm Cobalt Lembit Tedder said the damages have been tallied up by auditors Grant Thornton Baltic OÜ. The company is also demanding cessation of disclosure of business secrets and unfair competition.
The court has secured Via3L Spedition’s action by freezing the accounts of Nordic Spedition OÜ holding a little over €4 million, established a judicial mortgage on real estate owned by the defendants and suspended their holdings in the company. Without these measures, the defendants could simply transfer their assets which process had already started in the form of real estate transferred to a close person, Tedder added.
The attorney said that they believe grand larceny has been committed and they are using all legal means to protect their rights. He added that employees who are now being sued had to realize what they were doing was garishly unethical and illegal.
Sworn lawyer Paavo Koch, representing the employees of Via3L Spedition, commended the owners for going to court instead of resorting to a smear campaign via the press. However, he finds the owners’ action to be legally hopeless and ethically dubious and characterized it as rather an emotional move.
“It is likely the major owner is looking to punish his employees for leaving and put emotional pressure on them. Estonia does not have serfdom and people are free to choose where they work. Swarming is not illegal, it has happened before and will happen again,” Koch said.
He said that the employees are prepared to defend themselves in court and will challenge the ruling securing Via3L Spedition’s suit.
“The behavior of majority owners is the best possible example of why these people left the company in the first place. The claim indiscriminately targets everyone, whereas it seems the owner didn’t even know who he had working for him as one of the people it targets left the company after only a month’s probationary period,” Koch added.