A Lower Mainland real estate licence tutor has successfully sued a former contractor who started his own service in Burnaby in violation of a non-competition agreement.
Quick Pass Master Tutorial School Ltd. was awarded $50,000 in a suit against Li Min (Richard) Zhao.
Quick Pass teaches Mandarin-speaking students the “tricks, the principles, and the concepts” needed to pass UBC’s real estate licence exam, according to information contained in a B.C. Supreme Court ruling last week.
Benson Wang, the school’s founder, testified his approach makes it much easier for Mandarin-speaking students to study for the exam because it only teaches them “what is necessary for them to pass,” according to the ruling.
Zhao worked at the school as a teacher between June 9, 2016 and Oct. 31, 2017.
He had signed an independent contractor agreement with Quick Pass that contained non-competition, non-solicitation and confidentiality clauses.
Under the non-compete clause, Zhao agreed not to start up any kind of similar tutoring service in Vancouver, Burnaby or Richmond for 18 months after ending his employment with Quick Pass.
But in Nov. 1, 2017, just one day after terminating his contract with Quick Pass, Zhao opened his own school at 4555 Kingsway in Burnaby.
After Quick Pass won a restraining order against him in May 2018, Zhao moved his school to New Westminster.
In a ruling Friday, Justice Gordon Weatherill found Zhao had breached part of his agreement with Quick Pass, including the non-compete and confidentiality clauses.
Zhao told the court the materials he used after starting his own business on Nov. 1, 2017 were “entirely his own work product, developed without reference to the plaintiff’s teaching materials or the materials used by him while teaching at the plaintiff’s schools,” according to the ruling.
But Weatherill said it was “obvious from even a cursory examination” that the materials were “to a significant degree identical.”
“The genesis of the materials was the plaintiff,” Weatherill wrote.
He awarded Quick Pass $50,000 in damages.
The company had argued for $130,000 – the difference between its income in the six months before Zhao started his competing business and the six months after – but Weatherill said Quick Pass hadn’t proven its declining revenues hadn’t been caused by other factors, such as the loss of five other teachers, inflation, a new and enhanced English language requirement and the departure of Zhao – acknowledged to be the school's best teacher.
Quick Pass also asked for special costs against Zhao for his “conduct in the litigation, in particular the clear evidence that he lied and falsified evidence both in examination for discovery and in an affidavit filed in connection with the injunction application.”
He concluded Zhao’s evidence had been untruthful on a number of points.
“I have no difficulty finding that the defendant’s evidence on most, if not all, material issues was false and contrived in an attempt to achieve success in this action,” Weatherill said. “The harsh reality is that once a witness has been shown to be deceptive and untruthful in giving his evidence, that witness can no longer expect the court to consider him to be a trusted source of the truth.”