Our client worked as an operations manager for a third-party logistics transportation company for six years. During that time, she had ongoing concerns about her employer’s long-term vision and her future prospects for advancement within the organization. As a result, she eventually accepted a position with another company, which although in the same industry, did not initially compete for the type of business she was responsible for in her previous job.
Within two months after beginning her new job, our client’s previous employer sued her and her new employer for claims including breach of a non-compete agreement, breach of duty of loyalty, unfair competition, misappropriation of trade secrets and/or confidential information and tortious interference with prospective advantage. The plaintiff sought more than $36M in alleged future lost profit damages.
When the lawsuit commenced, our client initially sought legal counsel from a trusted employment law advising attorney, who attempted to negotiate with the former employer. When negotiations failed, he brought in Foley & Mansfield litigator Lisa Lamm Bachman – within less than two months before trial. Lisa and counsel for the defendant company knew they had a strong argument regarding the circumstances of the non-compete agreement – namely, that the non-compete in and of itself was a non-issue, but convincing a judge of that was another matter altogether, as plaintiff’s counsel raised numerous factual questions regarding the agreement.
When first accepting the job with the Plaintiff employer years prior, our client maintained that a non-compete agreement had not been discussed, let alone any specific terms disclosed, prior to her acceptance of the job. When she began working three weeks later, our client was asked to sign the non-compete agreement. However, contrary to Minnesota law, she was not provided consideration in exchange for her agreement to be bound by the terms of the non-compete. Under cross-examination, Lisa was able to obtain an unequivocal admission from the president of the company that he made it a practice to never to discuss the terms of a non-compete with prospective employees.
Lisa was also able to disprove the allegations that our client breached her duty of loyalty, or had in fact misappropriated any trade secrets from her former employer. After a nine day bifurcated jury trial on liability, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of our client and her current employer on all claims. While the Plaintiff claimed $36M in future lost profits, the jury found no liability on the part of either defendant and therefore no damages were awarded. Counsel representing the defendant employer relayed that Lisa’s diligence, savvy examination of witnesses, and overall trial experience contributed significantly to the defense verdict.
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