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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. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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