Being sued for non-compete between states

I worked as a salesperson for a company for 9 months in the printing industry. I was compensated $18,000 in salary. This company is based in Philadelphia. I quit this job and accepted a job in South Carolina. My job in Philly was to sell printers to end customers, I worked for a distributor. My job in South Carolina is to support distributors that sell to end customers, I work for the manufacturer (not the same manufacturer as my previous employer used). I'm now being sued for over $300,000 in damages based on my non-compete. Both companies operate nationwide. I have not contacted any of my former employers' customers. Since I live in South Carolina, it is going to be quite a burden to fight this federal lawsuit. What are my options and chances of getting through this?

1 answer  |  asked May 18, 2007 11:57 PM [EST]  |  applies to Pennsylvania

Answers (1)

Christopher Ezold
You appear to have solid arguments for fighting the noncompetition agreement lawsuit.

Before I respond to your inquiry, I must state that we have not spoken, I have not reviewed the relevant documents and facts, and I do not represent you. Therefore, my discussion below is not a legal opinion, but is informational only. Finally, my discussion applies only to issues to which Pennsylvania or Federal law apply, unless otherwise specified.

That being said, you appear to have solid arguments for fighting the noncompetition agreement lawsuit. I am assuming that the noncompetition agreement is governed by Pennsylvania law. Pennsylvania, like many states, requires that the employer have a legitimate business interest in enforcing the noncompete. Arguably, the employer has no legitimate business interest in precluding you from doing a different type of work, for a different type of customer, than you did for your employer. The geographic distance as well as the fact that you have not contacted any former customers is helpful.

Your options are to fight the case or to try to settle the claim. There is no middle ground once the lawsuit has been brought. Merely quitting won't stop the lawsuit; you would still have to fight or settle the claims.

No attorney could give you an opinion on your chances of success without reviewing the complaint, the agreement and the facts of the case with you.

Therefore, you should contact an attorney immediately; you have a limited time in which to answer the complaint and the more time an attorney has to review and respond, the better. The costs should not be significantly different than if you were located in Pennsylvania, except for your travel back and forth in a few instances.

If the employer has no grounds to bring the claim, and is doing so for an improper purpose, you may have a claim for damages and your attorneys' fees. This cannot be determined based on the facts of your question, however.

If you would like to discuss this matter further, please feel free to contact me at the below address(es) or number.

/Christopher E. Ezold/
Nancy O'Mara Ezold, P.C.
One Belmont Avenue,
Suite 501
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
(610) 660-5585

posted by Christopher Ezold  |  May 20, 2007 09:03 AM [EST]

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