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. Such things are no more elections than those in the late, unlamented Soviet Union.

  2. It appears the police and prosecutors are allowed to change the rules halfway through the game to suit themselves. I am surprised that the congress has not yet eliminated the right to a trial in cases involving any type of forensic evidence. That would suit their foolish law and order police state views. I say we eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes committed by members of congress and other government employees. Of course they would never do that. They are all corrupt cowards!!!

  3. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  4. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  5. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

ADVERTISEMENT