ChessLaw | LawDictionary.com | FreeLegalResearch.com
FreeMPRE.com | FreeBarReview.com | BuyingPower.com | LawTV 
Manhattan Law School | Law Firm 250 | EnPassant.com | TVToday.com
Law School 100 | Law Central | BarPlus Bar Review | ExpertWitnesses.com

Google
 





Lawsuit could derail work of South Florida millionaire in stopping child predators

LexisNexis parent company suing for violating non-compete;
Hank Asher countersues for $1.06 billion

By Brian Haas

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

4:42 PM EDT, July 5, 2009

WEST BOCA

A South Florida man is at the center of a billion-dollar lawsuit that he says has hindered his efforts to help law enforcement find child predators.

Millionaire Hank Asher, who lives west of Boca Raton, is being sued for undisclosed damages by the London-based company Reed Elsevier, owner of the LexisNexis information clearinghouse service and Asher's former business partners. Asher, who founded the public record and counter-terrorism company Seisint, sold his stake of the company in 2004 to Reed Elsevier in a $775 million deal and signed a non-compete agreement.

The lawsuit in Palm Beach County Circuit Court accuses Asher and his new company, called TLO, of violating that agreement, in part because of his work with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

"During the past I would say six months or so, he's been going around calling all our customers and saying things in the press about how he's got this revolutionary new product," said H. Lamar "Mickey" Mixson, attorney for Reed Elsevier. "It sounds like he not only plans to compete with us, but may already be competing with us."

The company is asking a judge to stop Asher's activities and to extend the non-compete clause, which is set to end Sept. 1, for another 25 months. It is also asking for unspecified damages.

Asher disputes that he violated the agreement. And his co-workers say the suit is muddling their efforts to catch child predators with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He is countersuing for more than $1 billion in damages.

"He has no products to compete with," said Asher's attorney, Jim Carrol. "The sole activities that he's involved in have to do with the protection of children in conjunction with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children."

Asher has long supported the center, helping develop database software to track down child predators. And his deal with Reed Elsevier even has an exception to allow Asher to work with the center. The center was founded in 1984 by America's Most Wanted host John Walsh, whose son was abducted from Hollywood and later found murdered. The organization helps find missing children and track down child predators.

Mixson said that Reed Elsevier has no interest in interfering with Asher's philanthropic work, but believes that Asher is secretly marketing a competing product.

Steve Racioppo, chief operating officer of Asher's TLO, said despite Reed Elsevier's intentions, the lawsuit is making police agencies hesitant to work with the company. This, in turn, limits what the center can accomplish.

"Many of them are kind of standing on the sidelines to see what's going to happen in the lawsuit," Racioppo said. "We could probably be doing more, faster, more completely, more successfully."

Asher has countersued, saying Reed Elsevier is trying to kill competition in the public records database market by trying to extend the non-compete agreement he signed. He says the company is also trying to move in to charge the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for the services he has been offering for free.

Asher is asking for about $1.06 billion in damages in his countersuit.