Bowing to a lawsuit from a rival, Thomas Nestell, who earlier this year founded Legacy Coach, a Coburg, Ore., luxury motorhome manufacturer, has scrapped the Legacy name and chosen another, according to a report in the Eugene Register Guard.
His fledgling company, which builds $1 million-plus motorhomes on Prevost bus chassis, is still in business. But it has switched to the name Legendary Luxury Coach, according to papers filed recently in Lane County Circuit Court.
The Register Guard said neither Nestell or his Portland attorney, John Spencer Stewart, were available for comment.
Junction City, Ore.-based Country Coach Inc. this summer sued Nestell, who now has agreed not to use the Legacy name, logo featuring the image of a stylized shark, floor plans, photographs or other Legacy materials. Country Coach officials said their firm developed all those materials and owned them as intellectual property.
Country Coach filed the lawsuit on July 14, asking for $10 million in damages and alleging that Nestell had misappropriated trade secrets and breached his fiduciary duty while he was a manager at Country Coach.
In legal filings, Nestell denied those allegations.
Nestell worked for Country Coach to revamp its bus-chassis line for about eight months until he was terminated in February 2003, according to legal filings. While Nestell was at Country Coach, he was involved in planning the Legacy line, but the company never launched production.
In its July lawsuit, Country Coach sought a preliminary injunction to bar Nestell from using the Legacy name, logo and other materials until the case went to trial.
But after Nestell promised to stop using them, Country Coach’s lawyers last month withdrew their motion for the injunction.
Now, the rest of the case moves forward, with a trial probably in the spring, unless the sides agree to settle, Country Coach attorney Judith Giers said.
Nestell, an industry veteran, founded Marathon Coach in 1983. The Coburg, Ore., firm produces bus-chassis motorhomes. About two years ago, he came out of retirement to work for Country Coach.
Bob Lee, co-founder of Country Coach, said he fired Nestell in February 2003, shortly after Nestell’s secretary reported to Lee that Nestell had asked her to take proprietary photos and/or other information to his house and to keep his request a secret, according to Lee’s affidavit.
In legal filings, Nestell denied those allegations. He stated that Country Coach fired him because he suffered from a heart condition that required surgery and recovery from mid-December 2002 to February 2003.
Nestell’s lawyers also argued that Country Coach is trying to prevent a former employee, who did not have a noncompete clause in his employment contract, from fairly competing with Country Coach by forming a new company.
Country Coach’s attorneys have said that Country Coach is not trying to crush a new competitor, but simply trying to protect its intellectual property.