Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fourth District Affirms Imposition Of Injunction, Reverses For More Specificity

In 4Uortho, LLC v. Practice Partners, Inc. (4D09-695), held that "We find no error with regard to the trial court’s decision to enter the temporary injunction, but reverse and remand as a portion of the order is vague and requires clarification."

As to the facts relating to the injunction, the court stated:
In early May of 2008, Farwell and Williams both resigned from their positions at Practice Partners, only to be hired several days later by 4UOrtho. Two months later, Elaine Morgan, a non-party to this lawsuit, also resigned from Practice Partners and accepted a position with 4UOrtho. Consequently, on August 7, 2008, Practice Partners filed its complaint, including claims for injunctive relief. In response, then counsel for 4UOrtho provided a written termination of the confidentiality agreement to Practice Partners on August 27, 2008. Practice Partners sought a temporary injunction, and three evidentiary hearings took place, after which, the trial court entered an order temporarily enjoining 4UOrtho from: employing Farwell, Williams, Morgan or any other current or past employee of Practice Partners until August 27, 2009; disclosing any confidential information until August 27, 2014; soliciting any practices which are current or prospective clients of Practice Partners and its affiliates; and offering employment or otherwise soliciting employment to any past Practice Partners employee under a non-compete agreement or any current Practice Partners employee until August 27, 2009.
With regard to the law, the court stated:
To establish that an agreement itself is lawful and enforceable, a party must “‘plead and prove the existence of one or more legitimate business interests justifying the restrictive covenant.’” Once the proponent of the injunction has established that the restraint is reasonably necessary to protect a legitimate business interest, the burden shifts to the opposing party to establish that the agreement is overbroad or otherwise not reasonably necessary. Id. A trial court’s ruling on a motion for a temporary injunction shall not be overturned absent a clear abuse of discretion...
Nonetheless, “one against whom [an injunction] is directed should not be left in doubt about what he is to do.” On appeal, 4UOrtho contends that the portion of the injunction preventing it “from soliciting a n y practices which are current or prospective clients of Practice Partners and the PPI affiliates,” is vague or overbroad. We agree and first direct the trial court to amend this portion of the injunction by defining prospective clients....Secondly, we direct the trial court to apply a time restriction to this portion of the order as well.


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