Lehi, Salt Lake City—A five-year legal battle between essential oil giants doTERRA and Young Living ended with the dismissal of a 2012 lawsuit Thursday.
Young Living filed the suit alleging that four former Young Living employees, David Stirling, Emily Wright, Justin Harrison and Lillian Shepherd, broke nonsolicitation provisions in their employment agreements when they founded doTERRA. Stirling, now chairman and CEO of doTERRA, was fired by Young Living in August 2007, while Wright quit the following month; Harrison and Shepherd both quit in 2008. According to a press release from doTERRA in the wake of the dismissal, all four strictly abided by the nonsolicitation clauses, which forbade them from soliciting any Young Living employees or distributors to join another company for a certain length of time—six months in Stirling and Wright’s case and a year for Harrison and Shepherd—after leaving Young Living.
In addition to the actions of the four former Young Living employees, the suit alleged those four employees improperly solicited 13 former Young Living distributors who left and became distributors for doTERRA. A jury trial found the former employees were not liable for breach of their employment provisions on either count.
Young Living estimated the damages from that breach of the nonsolicitation provisions to be $350,008,747. The judge awarded no damages in light of the dismissal.
The outcome of the suit is in part due to the length of time that passed between the events that prompted the suit and the filing thereof, though for different reasons.
According to a press release from doTERRA, the nearly five-year gap suggested, “the object was not legal justice, but rather a sinister and desperate marketing campaign to try to halt doTERRA’s remarkable ascension.”
A press release from Young Living stated, “We were unable to tell the full story, as many key claims and pieces of evidence were not allowed into evidence due to the expiration of the statute of limitations and certain court rulings. Plain and simple, the real story of doTERRA’s beginnings and the activities of its founders were not allowed into court, not because the judge or jury determined that doTERRA and its founders did not engage in that activity, but because Young Living simply waited too long under Utah law to bring these particular legal claims.”
Going forward, each company expressed a desire to continue growing with excellence.
“We are pleased and grateful that the official court record now reflects the true genesis story of doTERRA—one of integrity, rectitude and hope,” said Stirling in the release. “We are vindicated and look forward to moving past this baseless lawsuit and continuing our mission of sharing the purest essential oils with the world. We hope that Young Living will now move forward with its own business challenges and stop wasting resources on frivolous matters.”
“We have never been afraid to stand up for ourselves and our members. Young Living will always protect our company and our reputation,” stated Young Living in its release. “We have now had our day in court, and we deeply respect the judicial process. This verdict does not affect our business in any way and will not stop our momentum of getting essential oils into every home in the world. Young Living is ultimately about purpose and people, not about profit. This case was about right and wrong and setting the record straight.
“We believe that we were not successful in this case because of certain technicalities and pretrial rulings. We were unable to tell the full story, as many key claims and pieces of evidence were not allowed into evidence due to the expiration of the statute of limitations and certain court rulings,” the release added.