Judge tosses lawsuit between fireworks rivals Zambelli, Pyrotecnico |

Judge tosses lawsuit between fireworks rivals Zambelli, Pyrotecnico

A federal judge tossed out a lawsuit this week between two rival New Castle fireworks companies feuding over a top fireworks choreographer.

The dispute stemmed from coveted choreographer Matthew Wood, who quit Zambelli Fireworks Internationale in 2008 to work for Pyrotecnico. Zambelli sued, claiming Wood violated a non-compete clause in his contract.

U.S. District Judge Terrence F. McVerry on Tuesday sided with Wood and dismissed the case. Although four customers left Zambelli for Pyrotecnico — including the Florida Marlins and the Hard Rock Cafe — after Wood left Zambelli, the judge ruled that was not enough evidence to prove Wood violated his contract.

“Zambelli has failed to introduce sufficient admissible evidence to enable a reasonable factfinder to determine that its loss of business was due to wrongful conduct by Wood, as opposed to the mere loss of his services or other competitive factors,” McVerry wrote.

The judge also declined to award attorney fees to Zambelli.

Zambelli sued Wood and Pyrotecnico in March 2008, pitting two of the country’s top-name pyrotechnic companies, both headquartered in New Castle, against each other. Pyrotecnico previously was dismissed from the lawsuit.

The lawsuit stated Zambelli hired Wood in 2001, and that he was one of Zambelli’s most creative pyrotechnicians and choreographers. Shows he conducted included a New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square and college football’s Orange Bowl in Miami.

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