PSE Sues Olympia Entertainment

Palace Sports & Entertainment and the Detroit Pistons NBA team filed a lawsuit July 8 against nine former employees who went to work for rival Olympia Entertainment and allegedly took trade secrets and other confidential data with them.

A copy of the lawsuit obtained by Pollstar, filed in Oakland County Circuit Court, claims violations of the state’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act, breach of contract, unfair competition, conspiracy, tortious interference and other charges against the ex-employees and Olympia.

The ex-employees are accused of stealing, via e-mail, flash drive or printed documents, data including client and vendor lists, pricing lists, business plans, customer contracts and licenses for suites, marketing plans, sales invoices, ticket sales spreadsheets, sponsor proposals, appointment logs, calendars and financial records, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit seeks the return of the allegedly stolen information, monetary damages and to prevent Olympia employees from using any of that information.

“Given the circumstances, the Palace and Pistons had no choice but to seek court intervention in order to protect their businesses against what appears to be a coordinated, predatory attack on their confidential information concerning their businesses and customers,” PSE attorney James Roach said in a statement. “The defendants should not be allowed to reap the fruit of their misconduct.”

Events prompting the lawsuit began in February with the resignation of previous PSE President/CEO Tom Wilson to take a similar job with Olympia’s parent company, Ilitch Holdings.

The complaint alleges the nine defendants, who held key sales or marketing positions with PSE, then began leaving the company in March and April after job offers from Wilson, who is not named in the lawsuit.

The suit says PSE was alerted to the alleged information theft in late April when a customer called to report one of the ex-employees “had called him, was very aggressive in selling on behalf of the Red Wings [hockey team], and made disparaging remarks regarding PSE.” Officials then conducted an internal investigation.

The complaint also says that of the nine, all of whom signed confidentiality agreements, two admitted to taking confidential data from PSE but claimed they destroyed the information and didn’t distribute it.

One ex-employee is also accused of trying to hack into PSE’s database after joining Olympia’s staff.

PSE claims Olympia reps have yet to return the alleged stolen confidential data.

In a statement Ilitch Holdings spokesman Thomas Pyden told the Detroit News the case has no merit.

“In nearly 30 years of conducting business in this community and across the country, we have prided ourselves on adhering to the highest ethical standards as individuals and as a company – and we will continue to do so,” Pyden said.

“While we are still reviewing the lengthy lawsuit filed today by Palace Sports & Entertainment, it seems to be a classic case of ‘sour grapes’ over the voluntary departure of key Palace employees who chose to pursue what they perceived as better career opportunities.”

Pyden was not available for further comment at press time.

PSE owns and operates the Palace Of Auburn Hills, Meadow Brook Music Hall, DTE Energy Theatre and the Detroit Pistons.
Olympia owns and operates the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, Joe Louis Arena, Fox Theatre, Comerica Park, Cobo Arena, City Theatre and Masonic Temple Theatre.