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Court of Appeals of South Carolina
June 1, 2011, Submitted; October 20, 2011, Refiled
Opinion No. 4889
[*240] [**104] GEATHERS, J.: This is an appeal from a circuit court order granting partial summary judgment to Respondent Cicero Lucas on the grounds that the non-competition and non-solicitation clauses in an employment agreement he signed were overly broad and unenforceable. Appellant Team IA, Inc. (Team IA) argues the circuit court erred in granting partial summary judgment to Lucas, when (1) material facts were in dispute as set forth in the Supplemental Affidavit of Brent Yarborough; (2) the circuit court applied Georgia law despite the presence of a choice of law provision in the agreement signed by the parties requiring the application of South Carolina law; (3) the circuit court arguably would have reached a different result had it [***2] applied South Carolina law to evaluate whether the non-solicitation clause was an unreasonable restraint on trade; (4) no evidence was presented that the non-competition provision would improperly curtail Lucas's efforts to earn a livelihood; and (5) the circuit court could have limited the nationwide geographic restriction in the non-competition clause to the less expansive restricted territory alternatively defined in the employment agreement as South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. We reverse and remand.
Team IA conducts business in the microfilm, data entry, software, hardware, consulting, and related services industries. Team IA markets its business on a nationwide basis through electronic and print media, including the internet, attendance at trade shows, submission of bids, direct sales, [*241] and other means. In April of 2001, Team IA hired Lucas as a sales representative for the company. The parties signed an employment agreement, which contained the following clauses:
A) Non-Solicitation Agreement
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
395 S.C. 237 *; 717 S.E.2d 103 **; 2011 S.C. App. LEXIS 309 ***
Team IA, Inc., Appellant, v. Cicero Lucas, George Lawson, IV, and 5 Point Solutions, LLC, Defendants, Of whom Cicero Lucas is Respondent, Cicero Lucas and George Lawson, IV, Third-Party Plaintiffs, v. Brent Yarborough and Team IA, Inc., Third-Party Defendants.
Subsequent History: [***1] Withdrawn, Substituted and Refiled October 20, 2011.
Writ of certiorari granted Team IA v. Lucas, 2012 S.C. LEXIS 294 (S.C., Dec. 6, 2012)
Writ of certiorari dismissed Team Ia v. Lucas, 2013 S.C. LEXIS 277 (S.C., Oct. 23, 2013)
Prior History: Appeal From Lexington County. R. Knox McMahon, Circuit Court Judge.
Team IA, Inc. v. Lucas, 2011 S.C. App. LEXIS 267 (S.C. Ct. App., Sept. 14, 2011)
Disposition: REVERSED AND REMANDED.
circuit court, customers, territory, supplemental, choice of law provision, non-competition, non-solicitation, employment agreement, summary judgment, parties, choice of law, overly broad, nationwide, partial summary judgment, motion to strike, unenforceable, geographic, clarify, compete, solicit
Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, General Overview, Appeals, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review, Judgments, Evidentiary Considerations, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Preponderance of Evidence, Labor & Employment Law, Conditions & Terms, Trade Secrets & Unfair Competition, Noncompetition & Nondisclosure Agreements, Employment Relationships, Employment Contracts, Contract Interpretation, Inferences & Presumptions, Inferences, Motions for Summary Judgment, Federal & State Interrelationships, Choice of Law, Forum & Place