Established 1958 ~ Hardball Business Litigation & Complex Negotiations

PA District Court Invalidates Non-Compete for Lack of Adequate Consideration and Enforces Original Agreement

In Allied Orthopedic Assoc. v. Leonetti, Civil Action No. 18-01566, 2018 WL 4051801 (E.D. Pa. August 24, 2018), Plaintiff successfully enjoined Defendant from violating a non-compete agreement the two parties previously entered into. Plaintiff in this case is a manufacturer’s representative that sells medical equipment. Defendant was hired by Plaintiff in 2008 as a sales associate and executed a non-competition, non-solicitation and confidentiality agreement. Among other things, the non-compete stated that “[e]mployee agrees that he/she will not, directly or indirectly, at any time while employed by [Plaintiff] and within eighteen months (18) months after termination with Plaintiff, with or without cause, make any independent use of, or disclosure to any person other than an employee at [Plaintiff’s company].” In 2010, Defendant signed another series of non-competition, non-solicitation and confidentiality agreements and was “essentially promoted”. Defendant resigned in 2018 and began working for a local competitor of the Plaintiff. Plaintiff brought suit alleging breach of contract, tortious interference with contractual relations, tortious interference with business relations and violation of Pennsylvania’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act and civil conspiracy.

Defendant initially contended that the agreements entered into in 2010 controlled rather than the original non-compete signed in 2008. The Court found the 2010 non-competition agreements were “not supported by adequate consideration” and thus not valid. In Pennsylvania, in order for a non-competition covenant to be enforceable, it must related to a contract for employment, be supported by adequate consideration and be reasonably limited in both time and territory.  Since the consideration, which was the “promotion”, was not contemplated in the agreement, the 2010 agreement was not valid and the 2008 agreements controlled. As to the validity of the 2010 non-compete agreements, the Defendant did not dispute that the non-compete was incident to the employment relationship with Plaintiff or that the eighteen-month duration of the non-competition provision was excessive. Rather, Defendant attempted to argue that the territorial limit of the non-competition agreement was overreaching and unfair. The Court concluded that the recent downsize of Plaintiff’s company, which shrunk their commercial activity to Delaware, Philadelphia and the Philadelphia suburbs, limits the restrictions in the non-compete agreement to those specific areas. Therefore, since Defendant was working within the Philadelphia area, he was in breach of the non-competition agreement.

Philadelphia non-compete lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. protect employees’ right to work. For assistance in any type of employment law matter, call 215-574-0600 to schedule a consultation in our Philadelphia office, where we represent clients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, or contact us online.