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Appeals court tosses injunction tied to non-compete clause

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Terms of a non-compete clause in an agreement between an IT recruiter and his former employer are unreasonable, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Monday in throwing out an injunction that barred the recruiter from similar employment.

An appellate panel reversed and remanded an order from Tippecanoe Circuit Judge Donald L. Daniel granting a preliminary injunction for a West Lafayette firm that specializes in recruiting information technology executives.

In a 27-page opinion, Judge Elaine Brown reiterated the state’s general disfavor of non-compete clauses in employment contracts, the second such opinion handed down by the appeals panel in recent days. In Daniel B. Buffkin v. Glacier Group, 79A02-1302-PL-141, Glacier won a preliminary injunction from the trial court that barred Buffkin, a contract recruiter who had been terminated, from recruiting a range of IT professionals for any company with offices in the United States.  

Terms of the non-compete clause are “certainly excessive to protect Glacier’s legitimate interests,” Brown wrote in the opinion joined by judges Edward Najam and Paul Mathias.

“Based upon the language of the Agreement and the record, and keeping in mind that non-competition agreements are strictly construed against the employer … we conclude that Paragraph 6 of the Agreement, to the extent that it protects a legitimate interest of Glacier, is unreasonable in terms of the activities it prohibits and its geographic restraints. Accordingly, the non-competition covenant in the Agreement was unenforceable,” Brown wrote.

“Glacier failed to meet its burden of showing a reasonable likelihood of success at trial. As a result, the court erred in granting its request for a preliminary injunction.”

Last Monday, the same panel ruled that summary judgment was erroneously granted in favor of a former employer that sought to exercise the non-compete clause in the contract of a former airline mechanic who went to work for another company.

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  1. As one of the many consumers affected by this breach, I found my bank data had been lifted and used to buy over $200 of various merchandise in New York. I did a pretty good job of tracing the purchases to stores around a college campus just from the info on my bank statement. Hm. Mr. Hill, I would like my $200 back! It doesn't belong to the state, in my opinion. Give it back to the consumers affected. I had to freeze my credit and take out data protection, order a new debit card and wait until it arrived. I deserve something for my trouble!

  2. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  3. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  4. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  5. Different rules for different folks....

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