April, 2010

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Enforcement of Non-Compete Not Dependent on Solicitation of Former Clients or Use of Confidential Information

Monday, April 12th, 2010

In TEKsystems, Inc. v. Bolton, (2010), the Maryland Federal District Court recently reinforced Maryland law on the point that the enforcement of a covenant not to compete is not dependent on whether the competing former employee solicits his former employer’s clients or uses its confidential information, but rather on whether or not the scope of the restrictive covenant is reasonable. The only factors that will determine whether the non-compete is valid are its temporal and geographical limits, the employer’s legitimate business interests, the employee’s unique and specialized skills, any undue hardship on the employee, and the public interest served by enforcing the restrictive covenant.

The non-compete found in the former employee’s employment agreement contained standard language prohibiting the former employee from engaging “in the business of recruiting or providing on a temporary or permanent basis technical service personnel, industrial personnel, or office support personnel” for a period of 18 months after termination of employment, and within a geographical limitation of a 50-mile radius of the employee’s former office. Both the period of time of 18 months and the geographical scope of 50 miles have been held as reasonable on numerous occasions by Maryland courts.
The Court also found that the employer had legitimate business interests in enforcing the covenant, the employee possessed unique and specialized skills, and the employee would not suffer undue hardship by enforcing the covenant. The enforcement of the non-compete was upheld against the former employee.

To read a comprehensive blog of all of the issues address by the Court in this case, visit the blog of the Business Law Section of the Maryland State Bar Association at http://marylandbusinesslawdevelopments.blogspot.com/search/label/Injunctive%20Relief.

Parent Company Not Liable for Acts of Subsidiary

Monday, April 12th, 2010

In a recent Maryland Federal District Court Case, Antonio v. SSA, LLC, (2010) it was held that the parent of a company may not be held liable in Maryland for the acts of a subsidiary corporation under the corporate veil piercing doctrine without a showing of fraud or a necessity to enforce a paramount equity.

While the parent company, in this case ABM, did have control over the operations of the subsidiary company SSA, Inc., for example: (1) ABM owned 100% of the voting securities in SSA, Inc., (2) SSA, Inc. does not hold annual board meetings, keep corporate minutes, or conduct its own audits, and (3) all but one of SSA, Inc.’s officers are ABM’s officers, the Court held that control was by itself not enough to hold the parent company AMB liable and justify piercing the corporate veil.

The Court required that in order to hold the parent liable for the acts of the successor, the plaintiff mush show fraud on the part of the parent, or necessity to enforce a paramount equity. The court did not define what in this case would have amounted to a paramount equity, only stating that in this case none existed.

To read a comprehensive blog of all of the issues address by the court in this case, visit the blog of the Business Law Section of the Maryland State Bar Association at http://marylandbusinesslawdevelopments.blogspot.com/search/label/corporate%20veil.