Thursday, 07 December 2017 17:22

Drew v. Goliath: City Man Wins First Part of Legal Case Against Online Giant

SARATOGA SPRINGS – City entrepreneur Drew West admitted this week that he fully understood how it would be “a daunting task to go against a behemoth” like eBay Inc. in court.

Still, he said, “I couldn’t walk away from righting the wrong.”

Early this year, West, the owner of American Natural Gas on Railroad Place, partnered with his father, Albany attorney Thomas West, in filing a lawsuit against eBay in Saratoga Supreme Court for breach of contract and unjust enrichment, among several other claims.

Lawyers for eBay, based in San Jose, California, later petitioned to have the case moved to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York in Albany. 

On Friday, Dec. 1, a motion by eBay to dismiss the lawsuit was denied by U.S. District Judge Mae A. D'Agostino. The Wests are seeking $25 million.  

Cory Daniel Struble, a New York City attorney representing eBay for the national law firm Quinn Emanuel, deferred comment to California attorney David Grable with the same firm. Grable did not return a call for comment. 

The pending lawsuit relates to communications that occurred several years ago between Drew West and eBay executives; and the contested use of “an internet auction valet,” as described in the judge’s decision, “a service that simplifies the process for sellers on virtual marketplaces.”

Drew West has found financial success in such “valet” services for 20 years, D’Agostino explained. West and eBay first reached an agreement to collaborate in 2007 and the company formally hired him as a consultant in 2011, she added.   

The lawsuit alleges that, by October 2014, eBay executives were taking commercial advantage of a “business plan” that West had previously presented to them without his consent, according to D’Agostino’s decision.

“It was a simple contract case,” explained Thomas West, noting how eBay executives were “fascinated” by his son’s ideas as well as his “knack for moving merchandise.”

Thomas West said the legal victory on Dec. 1—in which all four claims made “survived” eBay’s motion to dismiss—allows the “discovery” phase of the legal process to begin and a potential trial by jury, during which both men say they will be vindicated.

“I think the merits are there,” added Drew West. “We’re just looking for our day in court.”   

 

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