Non-compete litigation in Oakland and Wayne counties is being directed to the new business courts. NachtLaw has experience litigating non-compete cases in both Oakland and Wayne county business courts. The business courts are the channeling of cases to particular judges who have been assigned as business court judges for each county effective October 17, 2012 perPublic Act 333. The purpose is to streamline the process, so that there is greater expertise and efficiency.
Our firm’s experience has been that non-compete litigation has not been affected by the creation of the business courts. Certain judges are ideologically disposed to enforce non-compete agreements. They believe that contracts should be enforced even if they have a harsh result. Other judges are predisposed to not enforce non-competes to the extent that they are harsh. Therefore, the business court designation is not nearly as significant as which judge one draws. When an employer is seeking to enforce a non-compete agreement against a former employee, it will typically file a complaint, but also seek a temporary restraining order (TRO) to provide immediate relief. Whether or not the TRO is granted it is followed rapidly by a hearing on a motion for a preliminary injunction.
The standard for granting motions on preliminary injunction is a time honored four part test. However, in non-compete cases, it always boils down to the extent to which the court believes that the non-compete is enforceable as a matter of law. When a judge hears a motion in a non-compete case, the court is acting with its equitable power. An equitable question is whether it is reasonable and just to enforce the terms of the contract. The key to litigating non-compete cases is for the lawyer to have a complete command of the facts about competition in the industry and the particular role that the employee played. A pediatrician facing non-compete litigation is in a very different situation from a software sales-person, a broker for shipping services, or a tier one automotive parts vice president. We take the time to learn your business so we can persuade the judge.
Non-compete cases often resolve, that is settle, at some point early on in the litigation. The terms of the settlement vary dramatically, however, based upon the initial indications that the judge provides. Whether the court is Oakland county, Wayne county, federal court, or other state courts, we have been there before. This is an increasingly active area of litigation and we focus on efficiently keeping our clients’ interests secure. If you have left a job to start another one, the prospect of being sued is daunting, but the prospect of a judge ordering you to stop working for your new employer is even more daunting. We will help you get through it.