Justices to hear sales rep’s nonsolicitation dispute with ex-employer

Indiana Supreme Court justices will hear oral argument next week in a dispute between a medical components company and one of its former employees after several other former employees left the company to take sales positions together elsewhere.

In Heraeus Medical, LLC, et al. v. Zimmer, Inc., et. al, 19S-PL-471, Zimmer Inc. sought a preliminary injunction against former employee Robert Kolbe and his new employer, Heraeus Medical. Zimmer alleged in part that Kolbe had violated his nonsolicitation agreement with Zimmer after he was joined by several other former Zimmer Biomet employees who had recently left to work with Kolbe at Heraeus Medical.

Zimmer sued Kolbe and the former employees for breach of contract, among other things, and the Kosciusko Superior Court ultimately granted the motion and entered a preliminary injunction. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the injunction in part, reversed in part, and remanded to the Kosciusko Superior Court, finding a covenant prohibiting the former employee from soliciting Zimmer employees to work for a competitor was overbroad.

In its decision, the appellate court limited the scope of the nonsolicitation covenant to employees in which the company has “a legitimate protectable interest,” finding the agreement provided for reforming an unreasonable provision.

The case is set to be heard before the Supreme Court at 9 a.m. Thursday.

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