Wine and Non-Competes
A recent non-compete/injunction opinion was delivered by Judge Marcia Cooke who presides in the Southern District of Florida. The opinion deals with the departure of a California wine executive to another competitor. It addresses many of the issues addressed in this blog under Florida law including choice of law issues, whether customer information is proprietary and protectable, and the elements necessary for an injunction.
The Court ultimately denied the injunction. One factor the court commented upon was the fluidity of employees from one employer to another in the wine business:
Southern Wine points out that it has lost several employees following Simpkins departure. Deposition testimony shows that fourteen employees have since left after Simpkins. Still, other deposition testimony indicates that in the wholesale alcohol distribution industry that defection of employees from one competitor to another is quite common and that Southern Wine itself – the top competitor in California – has hired employees from Young’s Market as well. These facts are indicative of the fluidity of transfer within this industry and that major competitors remain
successful because they foresee the possibility of defection and thus plan for it.
So the Plaintiff had actually hired employees away from it’s former employee’s new employer Though it doesn’t appear the injunction turned on this issue it certainly highlights the fact that the conduct of employers in the marketplace will be scrutinized when they are trying to enforce a non-compete.