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Lawsuit of the Week: B.C. marketing firm claims ex-employees stole its customers

Future Flow Media alleges several former workers emailed customers to say company had changed names
B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver | Rob Kruyt, BIV

A Vancouver marketing firm is suing what it claims is an imposter that’s stealing its customers.

Antarctica Digital Marketing Inc., which does business as Future Flow Media (FFM), alleges several former employees stole its proprietary information and used it to launch a new business. It also alleges the new business – Ardent Strategies LLC, which does business as Source Path Digital – emailed its customers to claim FFM was operating under the Source Path Digital name.

FFM stated in recent court filings that Ardent Strategies is controlled by FFM’s former vice-president of business development, Chris O’Neill.

The lawsuit also names a host of other former FFM employees, with job titles ranging from HR manager to operations director, that are all a part of what it claims is a conspiracy.

It’s alleged O’Neill had access to FFM’s confidential information, including login details to databases, customer information and other trade secrets.

Ardent began working with FFM as an independent contractor in 2017, according to the lawsuit, which also noted O’Neill’s father began working in 2018 as campaign operations manager for FFM, a role that reported directly to O’Neill.

FFM claims the O’Neills and the other former FFM employees began conspiring in March 2022 to access FFM’s Amazon Web Services and Salesforce Inc. (NYSE:CRM) accounts to steal the company’s customer information. The Amazon account, according to the lawsuit, contained 99 million customer records that were “critical to running FFM’s marketing campaigns.”

The defendants then allegedly began contacting FFM’s customers to say the company had changed its name to Source Path and directed their communications to that company. The defendants subsequently gave notice one-by-one of their resignations in March and April this year, according to the suit.

The lawsuit claims the defendants have since refused to return FFM’s confidential information, to return its electronic devices, to stop passing off as FFM and to stop soliciting business from FFM’s customers.

Also named as defendants in the lawsuit are O’Neill’s father, Darrell O’Neill; Chad Hornbuckle, FFM’s former operations director; Laurence-Marie Etienne, a former account supervisor; Monique Robinson, the former digital campaign manager; and Jennifer Whiteaker, a former office and human resources manager.

FFM is seeking an accounting of all profits made by the alleged scheme and for those to be paid to FFM as damages for unjust enrichment and conspiracy.

None of the defendants has filed a response in court as of press time.