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Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Third Circuit
January 26, 2022, Decided
[Pg 1] CONERY, Judge.
Plaintiff, Setpoint Integrated Solutions, Inc. (Setpoint), filed this suit against [*2] its former Chairman, Joseph "Joey" Jobe, seeking damages associated with, among other things, a purported breach of a non-competition agreement entered into after Mr. Jobe's separation of service from the company. A jury rendered judgment in favor of Setpoint, finding that Mr. Jobe breached the non-compete agreement and awarding associated damages. The trial court thereafter awarded Setpoint attorney fees related to its prosecution of the claim, but denied Mr. Jobe's request for attorney fees he sought following dismissed claims under the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act (LUTPA) and the Louisiana Uniform Trade Secrets Act (LUTSA). Mr. Jobe filed this appeal. For the following reasons, we reverse in part, affirm in part, and render judgment.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Setpoint is engaged in the distribution and servicing of industrial control valves and valve instrumentation and equipment, doing so in both Baton Rouge and Lake Charles. Setpoint instituted this matter in April 2016, naming its former Vice-President, William Kiteley, and former Regional Sales Manager, Brent Walker, as defendants. As Setpoint noted in the petition, both resigned their Setpoint positions on February [*3] 18, 2016 and immediately opened and began operating their newly formed company, Caliber Valve and Controls, LLC ("Caliber"). Setpoint also named Caliber as a defendant in its April 2016 petition.
The record substantiates Setpoint's allegations that Mr. Kiteley and Mr. Walker developed Caliber, a competitor of Setpoint, while still employed at Setpoint. Setpoint's initial claims included breach of contract, tortious interference with business, and, pertinent to this matter, claims under the Louisiana Uniform [Pg 2] Trade Secrets Act (LUTSA), La.R.S. 51:1432, et seq., and the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (LUTPA), La.R.S. 51:1401, et seq.
Setpoint filed its second supplemental and amended petition in December 2016, adding Mr. Jobe, its former Chairman, as a defendant. Mr. Jobe had served as the President and CEO of Setpoint (as well as its preceding corporate identities) from 2003 through April 2015. Setpoint transitioned Mr. Jobe from his earlier roles in April 2015 and named him Chairman at that time, a newly created position. Mr. Jobe's responsibilities were drastically curtailed in this latter and newly formed position, with Mr. Jobe functioning in a merely advisory capacity. Jack Guidry, President and CEO of Setpoint's parent [*4] company, PVI Holdings, assumed Mr. Jobe's roles as President and CEO of Setpoint in April of 2015.
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2022 La. App. LEXIS 97 *; 21-322 (La.App. 3 Cir. 01/26/22); 2022 WL 225093
SETPOINT INTEGRATED SOLUTIONS, INC. VERSUS WILLIAM KITELEY, ET AL.
Notice: THIS DECISION IS NOT FINAL UNTIL EXPIRATION OF THE FOURTEEN DAY REHEARING PERIOD.
Subsequent History: Rehearing denied by Setpoint Integrated Sols., Inc. v. Kiteley, 2022 La. App. LEXIS 430 (La.App. 3 Cir., Mar. 16, 2022)
Prior History: [*1] APPEAL FROM THE FOURTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT. PARISH OF CALCASIEU, NO. 2016-1724. HONORABLE G. MICHAEL CANADAY, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Disposition: REVERSED IN PART; AFFIRMED IN PART AND RENDERED.
non-competition, separate agreement, terminated, trial court, attorney's fees, costs, resignation, negotiations, parties, lunch, settlement, effective, severance payment, Integrated, matter of law, non-compete, awarding, damages, motion for attorney fees, president and ceo, breached, terms, valve, termination of employment, strict construction, termination date, unenforceable, agrees, bylaws
Civil Procedure, Trials, Judgment as Matter of Law, Judgment Notwithstanding Verdict, Evidence, Inferences & Presumptions, Inferences, Torts, Standards of Care, Reasonable Care, Balancing Test, Contracts Law, Damages, Measurement of Damages, Reliance Damages, Liabilities of Lessors, Negligence, Duty to Inspect, Defenses, Public Policy Violations, Labor & Employment Law, Conditions & Terms, Trade Secrets & Unfair Competition, Noncompetition & Nondisclosure Agreements, Trade Secrets Law, Employee Duties & Obligations, Right to Compete, Covenants Not to Compete, Business & Corporate Compliance, Labor & Employment Law, Wage & Hour Laws, Wage Payments, Antitrust & Trade Law, Private Actions, Costs & Attorney Fees, State Regulation, Remedies, Costs & Attorney Fees, Trade Secrets Law, Federal Versus State Law, Uniform Trade Secrets Act, Attorney Fees & Expenses, Basis of Recovery, Bad Faith Awards, Consumer Protection, Deceptive & Unfair Trade Practices