That's What She Said

All’s Not Fair in Love and War

Litigation Value: $250,000

Things escalated quickly during the “Heavy Competition” episode of The Office. Michael Scott ratcheted up his sales efforts by trying to get Dwight Schrute to give him some of Dunder Mifflin’s customers. But when new Dunder Mifflin boss Charles Minor gained Dwight’s respect (with a well-appreciated handshake –- “it’s firm!”), the deal was off, and the gloves came off, too.  Who could be liable to whom, and for how much?

First, Dunder Mifflin could do very well in a suit against Michael and his company. Michael tried to steal Dunder Mifflin’s customers, and might have done so unlawfully. Like we talked about a couple of weeks ago, although individuals can compete with their former employers, there are some restrictions. One such restriction is that you can’t conspire with a current employee to steal trade secrets. The only question is the amount of damages –- that’s difficult to determine because we don’t know how successful Michael has been. Let’s call it $50,000 for now.

But whatever Michael and his company would have to pay because of their actions, they would certainly make up for with their own claims. It would be difficult to pin Dwight’s bizarre behavior on Dunder Mifflin (certainly he wasn’t acting on behalf of Dunder Mifflin when he robbed them and threw a dead fish in their ceiling).  Still, they could sue Dwight for every penny he had — for the robbery; for telling people Michael had a nervous breakdown; and, to a lesser extent, for the dead fish. Let’s call it $200,000 because putting a company out of business (which Dwight was close to doing) will cost you.

Tune in next week for a new episode called “Broke.”  Sounds about right after this week.