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NASC Services, Inc. v. Jervis

07-CV-5793 (U.S. Dist. Ct. N.J. 2008) (Unpublished)

NON-COMPETITION — Even if an employer’s ex-employees have signed a non-competition agreement, the employer will not be entitled to injunctive relief if the employer has no legitimate protected interest in preventing from its ex-employees from competing, especially if it was aware of their new employment for a substantial period before seeking emergent relief.

A business operating soccer camps filed a motion to preliminarily enjoin former employees from violating their employee/employer non-competition, non-solicitation, and non-disclosure agreements. The business provided soccer instruction to youths. All employees were citizens of the United Kingdom. The former employees were currently employed with another local business where they taught soccer.

The Court engaged in an analysis to determine whether the agreements supported the business’s right to preliminarily enjoin the former employees from working for the competitor. The Court found that the former employees did not provide unique services and possessed no extraordinary skills that could harm the original employer if they continued to work for the competitor or for any other employer in the soccer industry. The Court simply found the business had no legitimate protected interest in preventing its ex-employees from continuing to teach children how to play soccer. The Court stated that the employees in their former business were not exposed to information that represented a trade secret. Additionally, the Court concluded that the business’s alleged client list contained names of area soccer clubs that might be interested in their services, a list that could be easily replicated from information taken from the Internet. Further, the Court found that the business could not demonstrate any imminent harm necessary to merit preliminary restraints. In fact, the business had known of the former employees’ new employment for several months before seeking emergent relief. Lastly, the Court found that a balancing of the equities favored the employees because their employment determined the length of their stay in the United States. Accordingly, the Court denied the business’s motion for preliminary injunction of the employees’ right to their continued employment.

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