ILNews

COA turns to dictionary in contract dispute

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Citing Black’s Law Dictionary’s definitions of “solicit” and “induce,” the Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a trial court’s finding that a software company did not violate terms of its contract with another business.

In 2009, Hypersonic Technologies and Enhanced Network Solutions entered into a subcontractor agreement in which ENS would acquire certain items from Hypersonic to service its own clients. A clause in the agreement prepared by ENS stated that – unless mutually agreed to by both parties – the companies would “refrain from soliciting or inducing, or attempting to solicit or induce, any employee of the other Party in any manner that may reasonably be expected to bring about the termination.” After an employee left ENS to join Hypersonic, ENS alleged Hypersonic had violated that agreement.

The two companies never successfully bid on a contract, and Hypersonic terminated its agreement with ENS on June 21, 2010. While the contract was still in effect, Hypersonic had posted a job opening online. ENS employee Robert Dobson saw the posting and contacted Hypersonic to ask about the position. Dobson met with Hypersonic’s owner and president sometime in April 2010 to further discuss the job. But Hypersonic did not extend an offer to Dobson at that time.

The three met again about a week afterward, and Dobson explained his terms of compensation and what he was looking for in a new position. Hypersonic then extended a job offer, and Dobson began working for Hypersonic in May 2010.

Dobson, the appeals court held, initiated contact with Hypersonic. “In other words, Dobson solicited Hypersonic,” the court’s opinion stated.

ENS claimed that despite the fact that Dobson initiated the contacts with Hypersonic, Hypersonic solicited Dobson when it continued talking with him. In support, ENS referred to an out-of-state case – Scarbrough v. Liberty National Life Insurance Co., 872 So.2d 283 (Fla. Ct. App. 2004) – which stands for the premise that in appropriate circumstances, a person may solicit another’s business regardless of who initiates the meeting.

In Scarbrough, after a former client initially contacted Scarbrough, an insurance agent, Scarbrough proactively provided the client with a comparison between the benefits and premiums offered by the client’s former insurance company and the insurance company for which Scarbrough currently worked. Id. at 284-85. The Florida Court of Appeals recognized that being “proactive” was included within the term “solicit.” See id. at 285. But the Indiana COA held that because Dobson initiated all major steps that led to his employment, the Florida case doesn’t apply to Enhanced Network Solutions v. Hypersonic Technologies, No. 02A03-1011-PL-609.

The COA also held that the agreement lacked a definition of the terms “solicit” and “induce.” In finding that Hypersonic did not violate the agreement, the court turned to Black’s Law Dictionary for a literal interpretation of the terms in question, which states that solicit means: “[t]he act or an instance of requesting or seeking to obtain something; a request or petition”; and induce means: “[t]he act or process of enticing or persuading another person to take a certain course of action.”

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

ADVERTISEMENT