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Mickey's Linen v. Fischer

United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

September 8, 2017, Decided; September 8, 2017, Filed

Case No. 17 C 2154

Opinion

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Mickey's Linen ("Mickey's") brings this four-count action against its former employee, Defendant Donald Fischer, for breach of an employment agreement (Count I), misappropriation of trade secrets under the Defend Trade Secrets Act 18 U.S.C. § 1836, et seq ("DTSA"). and Illinois Trade Secrets Act, 765 ILCS 1065/1 et seq. ("ITSA") (Count's II and III), and breach of duty of loyalty (Count IV). (Doc. 24). Mickey's originally filed this action in March 2017 (Doc. 1), and then sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. (Doc. 5). The parties thereafter agreed to a standstill (obviating any need for a TRO) and expedited discovery (Docs. 19, 22), and consented to this Court's jurisdiction to rule on Mickey's motion for preliminary injunction. (Docs. 31-32). The Court held an evidentiary [*2]  hearing on Mickey's preliminary injunction motion on June 7, 2017, after which the parties filed their respective briefs. (Docs. 42, 46, 48, 50-51). Having considered those briefs and the evidence presented at the June 7 hearing, for the reasons explained below, the Court now grants in part and denies in part Mickey's motion for preliminary injunction (Doc. 6). The parties are directed to submit a proposed injunction order consistent with this Opinion within ten days of its issuance.

BACKGROUND

I. FISCHER'S HIRING AND EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT WITH MICKEY'S

Mickey's is in the business of leasing and laundering various linens (such as mats, table cloths, napkins, and similar products) for hospitality providers and food service establishments (such as restaurants, country clubs, banquet halls, and similar businesses). (Doc. 50, 6/7/2017 Preliminary Injunction Hearing Transcript ("Tr."), at 18-19). Mickey's also has a division known as "Medclean," which provides similar services to the retail medical industry, although its primary business is in the hospitality and food service area. (Tr. at 186, 210). One of Mickey's direct competitors in the hospitality and food service area is Fischer's new [*3]  employer, Alsco, Inc. ("Alsco"). (Tr. at 19).

Among other locations, Mickey's has long had facilities in Chicago and Villa Park, Illinois and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Tr. at 109-10). In October 1997, Mickey's hired Fischer as a "route representative" (which Fischer described as a "delivery driver") in Mickey's Chicago facility, which then serviced its customers in Cook, Lake, and DuPage counties. (Tr. at 19-21). At the time of his hiring, Fischer signed an Employment Agreement which defined Mickey's "Business" for purposes of that agreement as "uniform and linen rentals, the sale of restroom supplies, paper products and similar items." (Doc. 54, at 11; see also Doc. 24-1 for a clearer copy). This agreement included, among other provisions, a Non-Competition provision (Paragraph No. 6), a Non-Solicitation of Customer and Prospects provision (Paragraph No. 7), and a Confidentiality provision (Paragraph No. 5). (Id. at 11-12). The Non-Competition provision prohibited Fischer from engaging in the same "Business" as Mickey's in the counties then serviced by Mickey's Chicago facility (Cook, Lake, and DuPage) for eighteen months after the termination of Fischer's employment, as follows:

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2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145513 *; 2017 WL 3970593

MICKEY'S LINEN, Plaintiff, v. DONALD FISCHER, Defendant.

CORE TERMS

customers, trade secret, covenant, solicit, injunction, confidential information, employment agreement, misappropriation, confidential, competitor, preliminary injunction, route, argues, damages, confidentiality provision, non-solicitation, geographic, documents, sales, restrictive covenant, non-compete, territory, factors, injunctive relief, Declaration, disclose, parties, pricing, former employee, new employer