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Devries v. Pioneer Wireline Services, LLC

United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division

December 10, 2014

KENTON DeVRIES, Plaintiff,
v.
PIONEER WIRELINE SERVICES, LLC, f/k/a PIONEER LOG-TECH, LLC, a Delaware Limited Liability Company, and JOHN DOES I-V, Defendants.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

CAROLYN S. OSTBY, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Kenton DeVries ("DeVries") seeks a declaratory judgment and damages arising from interpretation of certain provisions of his employment agreement with his employer, Defendant Pioneer Wireline Services, LLC ("Pioneer"). Am. Cmplt, Pet. for Declaratory Judgment and Jury Demand (ECF 3) at ¶¶ 21-33. [1] Specifically, DeVries seeks: (1) a declaration that the agreement's non-disclosure and non-compete clause is invalid and unenforceable, id. at ¶ 25 (Count One); (2) a declaration that Pioneer's breach of the agreement's doublebonuses provision precludes Pioneer from enforcing the non-disclosure and non-compete clause, id. at ¶30 (Count Two); (3) payment of double bonuses to which he claims entitlement under the agreement, id. at ¶ 33 (Count Three); and (4) attorneys fees and costs, id. DeVries invokes the Court's diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Id . at ¶ 4.

Now pending is Pioneer's motion to dismiss. Mtn. to Dismiss (ECF 4). For the reasons set forth below, the Court recommends that Pioneer's motion be denied.

I. BACKGROUND

In his amended complaint and petition for declaratory judgment, DeVries alleges as follows:

DeVries has worked as a field engineer in the petroleum industry since obtaining a B.S. degree in 1996 in petroleum engineering. ECF 3 at ¶ 6. In 2004, he became an owner of Prairie Investors, d/b/a Competition Wireline Services and Competition Wireline Services, Inc. ("Prairie"). Id.

On February 29, 2008, DeVries and Prairie entered into an employment agreement. On that same day, Prairie was sold to Pioneer Log-Tech, LLC, which, a few days later, changed its name to Pioneer Wireline Services, LLC. Id . at ¶¶ 8-9. Pioneer now owns all Prairie assets in Billings, Montana, including the employment agreement between DeVries and Prairie. Id . at ¶ 10.

DeVries still works for Pioneer. Id . at ¶ 11. Since becoming an owner at Prairie in 2004, the only employment agreement DeVries has entered into is the one now owned by Pioneer. Id . at ¶ 12.

DeVries' employment agreement with Pioneer contains a nondisclosure and non-compete clause. It also contains terms under which DeVries is eligible for double bonuses. Id . at ¶14.

Pioneer has informed DeVries that it will attempt to use the nondisclosure and non-compete clause to prevent him from seeking employment in his field with any other entity. Id . at ¶ 15.

From March 2008 until February 13, 2011, DeVries received double bonuses under the terms of the employment agreement. Id . at ¶ 16. He claims he was entitled to receipt of double bonuses from February 13, 2011, through August 28, 2013. Id . at ¶ 17. Soon after August 28, 2013, DeVries requested a transfer to Dickinson, North Dakota, from where he no longer traveled the distance required to make double bonuses. Id . at ¶ 18.

On September 12, 2014, DeVries filed this action. Verified Cmplt. & Pet. for Declaratory Judgment (ECF 1) at 1. On October 2, 2014, he filed his amended complaint and petition for declaratory judgment setting forth his claims listed above. ECF 3 at ¶¶ 25, 30, and 33.

II. PARTIES' ARGUMENTS

Pioneer seeks dismissal of all of DeVries' claims. Pioneer generally argues that "they request impermissible advisory opinions or concern disputed breach of contract facts not appropriately resolved through a ...


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