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Noncompete Case Underscores the Need for Right Wording

by admin on April 9, 2012 No comments

Noncompetition provisions are tricky.  Courts generally don’t like them; and the law is very particular about them.  Generally speaking, a noncompete is enforceable if it is well written and the employer has complied with the contract that contains it.  That said, since courts are not big fans of noncompetes and since the law is that a noncompete is to be strictly construed (against the party that drafted it), the devil is clearly in the details.  For instance, one court refused to uphold a noncompete when the wording was that it complied in the event the employment agreement was terminated, but in the case at hand the contract simply expired.  In other words, the contract said that it applied in the event the contract was terminated.  Since the contract simply ran out, the court refused to enforce the noncompete.

The same sort of thing has happened to a Florida veterinarian.  The employment agreement he signed prohibited the doctor from having anything to do with a competing business within a 35 mile radius, so the doctor located his practice outside that zone when the contract was terminated.  When the doctor provided services within the 35 mile zone, the employer sued…and lost.  Here’s why:  the contract did not prevent the doctor from practicing in the 35 mile zone.  It just prevented him from having anything to do with a competing business that practiced in that zone.  Tricky.

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