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Although the contract is voidable a minor should not be permitted to utilize any benefits, training or knowledge derived from such contract to the damage and detriment of an employer. As a practical matter, to hold otherwise would deter the employment of minors because no person would care to run the risk of employing a person who could not only avoid the contract but also utilize that which he has derived from the contract to compete with his former employer.
Plaintiff Sam Pankas entered into an employment contract with defendant Thomas Bell. At the time the contract was signed, the defendant was a minor. When the defendant opened his own shop in violation of the contract, plaintiff brought an action for injunctive relief. The trial court granted a preliminary injunction against the defendant. On appeal, the defendant urged that because the plaintiff admitted that the defendant had worked under an oral contract before signing a written one, there was no consideration for the restrictive covenant not to compete. The defendant also argued that the contract was voidable because he was a minor. On the other hand, the plaintiff argued that the defendant had received the benefit of the plaintiff’s experience and instruction and had secured the plaintiff's customer lists; therefore, the defendant was justifiably restricted for a reasonable length of time.
Was the grant of preliminary injunction against the defendant proper under the circumstances?
On appeal, the court held that the record showed no admission by the plaintiff that the defendant had worked under an oral contract before signing the formal contract. Moreover, the court held that the contract was not invalid for want of good and sufficient consideration, as the contract was under seal, which imported consideration. According to the court, although the contract was voidable, the defendant was not permitted to utilize any benefits, training, or knowledge derived from the contract to the damage and detriment of the plaintiff. Since the record showed that the plaintiff had suffered irreparable injury, the court affirmed the grant of the preliminary injunction.