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Causin, L.L.C. v. Pace Safety Consultants, LLC - 2018-0706 ( La. App. 4 Cir 01/30/18)

Rule:

In order to be a valid nonsolicitation/noncompetition agreement pursuant to La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 23:921(C), three overarching requirements must be met: (1) a two-year maximum duration, (2) a list of the areas in which the former employee is restrained, and (3) competition between the former employee and employer. If an exception set forth in § 23:921 is met, § 23:921(A) provides that every contract or agreement, or provision thereof, which meets the exceptions as provided in § 23:921, shall be enforceable.

Facts:

This action involves a nonsolicitation/noncompetition agreement. A dispute arose between Appellee, Causin, L.L.C. d/b/a Bayou Safety and Supply (Causin), a former employer and Appellants, Jay R. Baker, (Baker) a former employee, and Mr. Baker's company, Pace Safety Consultants, LLC (Pace Safety). Causin filed in the district court a petition for declaratory judgment, preliminary injunction, permanent injunction and damages, alleging Baker violated the conditions of the nonsolicitation/noncompetition and confidentiality agreement (Non-Compete Document), which Baker signed during his employment with Causin. In turn, Baker filed an article 965 motion for judgment on the pleadings. Following a trial on the Petition and the Article 965 Motion, the district court rendered a judgment on May 3, 2018, in favor of Causin. From this judgment, Baker appealed.

Issue:

Did Baker violate the conditions of Non-Compete Document that he signed during his employment with Causin when he began, after his employment with Causin, his own safety company that is in direct competition with Causin?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The court affirmed judgment for an employer seeking to enforce a nonsolicit/noncompete agreement against a former employee because the agreement satisfied the requirements of La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 23:921 where he signed as an at will employee, and the condition for employment was clearly set forth. The geographical restriction of § 23:921(C) was satisfied where the document clearly and expressly set forth the specific parishes and counties where the employer did business in which the former employee was restricted from competing and soliciting. Reference to "subsidiaries, affiliates" was merely an accessory clause that was unneeded. Thus, the court amended the judgment to delete the reference to "subsidiaries, affiliates" contained in the agreement.

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