Bad facts make bad law, the saying goes. In the non-compete world, it might more aptly be said that filing a weak lawsuit against a sympathetic defendant makes bad law.
A recent decision by the Illinois Appellate Court is a good example. The court refused to enforce a non-solicitation agreement that many judges would have upheld under the right circumstances. The likely (if unspoken) reason? The defendant was a low-wage employee who fixed car dents for a living and who hadn’t done anything particularly wrong after quitting his job.
When it comes to non-competes in the health care industry, the doctor/patient relationship has sometimes taken a back seat to business considerations. That is changing in Indiana, where a new law adds requirements for physician non-competes that will make it easier for patients to follow their doctor to a new practice group or medical center. Continue reading →
After working for nearly three decades at CVS Pharmacy, Inc., including in senior-level jobs, John Lavin accepted a new position at a company called PillPack LLC, a direct competitor of CVS. PillPack is an online retail pharmacy founded in 2013 and wholly owned by Amazon.
At four points during his employment as a senior vice president, CVS required Lavin to sign a restrictive covenant agreement (“RCA”). Each RCA contained non-competition, non-solicitation, and nondisclosure covenants. The RCAs defined competitors of CVS but contained no geographic limitations. Each time Lavin signed a RCA, he was awarded CVS stock.
CVS Obtains A Preliminary Injunction Enforcing The Non-Compete
CVS sued Lavin and moved for a preliminary injunction, which was granted.Continue reading →
The Indiana Supreme Court has reaffirmed its narrow interpretation of the “blue pencil” doctrine, holding that courts may not add terms to an overbroad non-solicitation or non-competition provision to make it reasonable even if the contract has a reformation clause.
A federal court, in a non-competition setting, had to untangle the relationship between three separate agreements. One contained an arbitration provision but the others did not. Ultimately, the court determined that some parties had to arbitrate some claims but that others did not have to arbitrate. Continue reading →
Liquidated damages provisions are supposed to simplify non-compete cases, but disputes over the enforceability of such provisions can have the opposite effect, complicating the matter and adding uncertainty. If a court determines that the liquidated damages are grossly disproportionate to the employer’s actual loss, the court may refuse to enforce the liquidated damages provision as an impermissible penalty. Continue reading →
Tip 1: Choose your choice of law wisely and FIRST.
The law you choose to apply to a restrictive covenant is regularly outcome determinative in enforcement proceedings (e.g. Illinois’ rule on at-will employment as consideration, North Carolina’s rule on blue-penciling, Louisiana’s law on geographic scope, Florida’s statute on presumptive validity, etc.)
And there are sometimes three or four states from which to pick:
where the employer or seller is located (state of incorporation or principal place of business)
where the employee or purchaser is located
where the place of performance is located.
So take the opportunity to pick the law that is most likely to do what your client already presumes will be done: your restrictive covenants will be enforced.
Relatively speaking, Delaware –often the default state of incorporation– is a solid and defensible choice.
Sometimes a party to a contract gets greedy. As an example, sometimes a party seeks an onerous non-competition provision in a contract. Will a court enforce it? Will the court modify the agreement if it is too broad in some respect? Let’s see how this played out in a real case. Continue reading →