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January 30, 2024—An advertising agent, her company, and her parents agreed on Monday to pay Wilmington-based Plan A Advertising, LLC a $100,000 settlement to avoid trial on fraud, contract interference, and other claims.

Laura Gates, formerly known as Laura Kinkead, her company Cobalt Creative & Marketing, LLC, and her parents agreed to pay voluntarily rather than face a jury in a trial set to begin that morning. 

Plan A, represented by Reiss & Nutt, accused Gates in a lawsuit of fabricating invoices that she submitted for payment by Plan A clients but were really to purchase musical equipment for another defendant, Taylor Lee.  Lee is a local bass player with whom Gates, then working for Plan A, had a personal relationship.  Lee resold most of the equipment.

Plan A’s owner, Angi Israel, terminated Gates, informed the affected clients, and credited accounts for the musical equipment. 

Gates then formed Cobalt, a competing marketing agency, installing her mother as owner and her father as vice president.  Plan A alleged Gates violated a non-solicitation agreement by taking clients with her, and that she and Cobalt caused some of those clients not to pay outstanding invoices they owed to Plan A—but to pay Cobalt instead. 

W. Cory Reiss, lead counsel for Plan A, said Gates could have settled for a fraction of the final amount if she had seen the light sooner.

Minutes before trial was to begin, Gates initiated settlement discussions.  She did not admit liability.

“Paying $100,000 to avoid a jury,” Reiss said, “doesn’t advertise confidence in a favorable verdict.”

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