Agency.com Sues Rival iCrossing Over Staff and Client Poaching

One year after closing its Dallas office, Agency.com has filed a lawsuit accusing rival agency iCrossing of illegally poaching employees and clients in the region.

A number of iCrossing employees are named as defendants in the suit. Among them are iCrossing CEO and former Agency.com CEO Don Scales, Colin Turney, Marlin Jackson, and Lori Wilson. Turney, Jackson and Wilson were all hired away at approximately the same time during the summer of 2006, a few months after Scales himself left.

The $19.5 million suit alleges iCrossing raided Agency.com’s employees and clients, and says its staff courted a client on the rival agency’s behalf while still employed by Agency.com. It specifically accuses Marlin Jackson, its former VP of business development, of helping iCrossing obtain assignments from Marriott/Ritz-Carlton while still employed by Agency.com.

In its complaint, Agency.com claims “employee raiding” by Scales and iCrossing “led to the closing of Agency.com’s Dallas office in November 2007, and decimated Agency.com’s Chicago office.”

The suit also references a settlement reached between the two companies in July 2006, in which Scales agreed to refrain from soliciting Agency.com employees and clients for a period of 18 months. According to the complaint, Scales and iCrossing did not comply with the settlement.

Rather, iCrossing says the defendants “extended offers of employment to at least a dozen Agency.com employees before the restriction against iCrossing soliciting or hiring Agency.com’s employees had expired.”

Scales had been managing director of Agency.com’s Dallas office before being promoted to president there. Shortly after fleeing to iCrossing, he undertook the founding of a Dallas office with several staffers from the ranks of his erstwhile company. Scales himself is based in that office.

This story has been updated with new information from Agency.com’s complaint.

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