Injunctive relief will be granted to restrain violation by an employee of negative covenants in a personal service contract if the employee is a person of exceptional and unique knowledge, skill and ability in performing the service called for in the contract.
Appellant football team filed an action against appellee player for an injunction to restrain the player from playing professional football, or engaging in any activities related to professional football for anyone except the football team. The player had originally signed a personal services contract with another team, which was later assigned to the football team. The player had decided not to play for a year and then had signed another contract with another team. The football team sought review from a judgment on the merits entered by the trial court in favor of the player. On appeal, the football team argued that there was no evidence of probative force to support the jury's finding that the player did not possess unique skill and ability. The player appealed the order granting the football team a temporary injunction. The judgment on the merits to the effect that the football team take nothing by its suit was reversed and the case was remanded for a new trial. The order granting a temporary injunction in favor of the football team was affirmed.
Did the court err in granting temporary injunction in favor of the football team?
In reversing the judgment on the merits, the court held that while it could not have agreed with the football team that there was no evidence in the record of probative force to support the fact finding of the jury to the effect that the player did not have exceptional and unique knowledge, skill and ability as a football player, the evidence was "insufficient" to support the jury finding, and thus, the football team was entitled to a new trial. The court also held that the contract had not expired under its own terms. The court affirmed the grant of the temporary injunction in favor of the football team because it preserved the status quo until a final determination on the merits.