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Supreme Court examines Indiana's blacklisting statute

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In declaring precedent from 1904 bad law, the Indiana Supreme Court has determined that individuals who’ve voluntarily left employment can pursue a claim against their former employers under the state’s blacklisting statute.

But the justices also determined that attorney fees are not an element of compensatory damages under that same statute and that an employer’s suit against a former employee to protect trade secrets isn’t a basis for recovery under that law.

Justices addressed in Loparex, LLC v. MPI Release Technologies, LLC, Gerald Kerber, and Stephen Odders, No. 94S00-1109-CQ-546, three certified questions from U.S. Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson in the Southern District of Indiana involving a federal case filed by Illinois-based Loparex LLC that makes products such as nametags, window films and roofing underlayment.

The case involves two employees who were fired or resigned in 2008 and 2009 and had non-competition agreements to not take any of their knowledge of “trade secrets” for one year. The company accused them of taking materials and knowledge and tried to stop other companies from hiring them, while the two employees filed answers and counterclaims accusing Loparex of blacklisting them in violation of Indiana law. In September 2011, Magnus-Stinson certified a trio of issues to the state justices after she denied Loparex’s motions to dismiss the counterclaims and granted summary judgment to the two employees.

Recapping the history of the Indiana Blacklisting Statute that was enacted near the start of the 20th century, Chief Justice Randall Shepard recounted statutory and constitutional changes as well as evolving caselaw on the blacklisting statute and also the Indiana Constitution’s requirement that laws be confined to a single subject.

When the Indiana Supreme Court decided Wabash Railroad Co. v. Young, 162 Ind. 102, 69 N.E. 1003 (1904), it held that a portion of the blacklisting statute extending to employees not discharged ran afoul of the Indiana Constitution. But Shepard wrote that Young is no longer good law because of rulings and constitutional changes to the single subject requirement through the years.

The justices also determined that nothing in the language, history or nature of the blacklisting statute points to anything but the American rule that attorney fees may not be recovered as an element of compensatory damages for a plaintiff in a blacklisting claim. On the third question, the justices determined the blacklisting statute can’t be used as a basis for recovery in an unsuccessful suit aimed at protecting alleged trade secrets relating to a non-compete agreement.

 

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  1. 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?

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  5. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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