Broward County non-compete attorney Jonathan Pollard and Pollard PLLC have defeated another request for a preliminary injunction, this time in a Broward County case involving the UX or user experience design industry.
The plaintiff, Key Lime Interactive, is a company that specializes in user experience design. Essentially, Key Lime assists companies in developing or improving user experience in online or physical products. In March, 2014, Key Lime hired the defendant, Jason Galvao, as a sales manager. Galvao’s principal role was client development, which he pursued mostly through cold-calling, cold-emailing and developing prospects through publicly available resources. Ultimately, Galvao left the company in October 2014. After briefly working for another company in the industry, Galvao returned to school to study user experience design. As part of his education, Galvao obtained an unpaid internship with a company that Key Lime believed was a direct competitor.
In February 2016, Key Lime sued Galvao alleging that his affiliation with a competing company, whether internship or otherwise, violated his non-compete agreement. According to Key Lime, it had legitimate business interests to protect in the form of confidential information, customer relationships and training. At a two-day hearing, Key Lime and its owner repeatedly testified that an injunction was necessary to protect the company’s customer relationships. Key Lime’s owner took the stand and testified about an MTV subsidiary or affiliate. Apparently. According to Key Lime, Galvao developed contact with this MTV affiliate while working at the company, left Key Lime, and had since had a meeting with an MTV representative while working for a competitor. According to Key Lime, this threatened irreparable harm. Key Lime badly overplayed its hand. When subjected to cross-examination, however, the owner of Key Lime admitted that although her company had established a relationship with MTV, they had not actually done any paid work for MTV or generated any revenue from MTV.
Ultimately, the Court concluded that Key Lime had failed to demonstrate that the Defendant disclosed any of its confidential information or solicited any of the company’s clients or employees. Further, and more significantly, the Court held that the non-compete, as written, did only barred Galvao from working for a competitor, but did not explicitly bar him from being an unpaid intern for a competitor. The ultimate source of the law on this point was the seminal Coastal Loading case out of Florida’s 2nd DCA (holding that the explicit terms of the contract govern). The court denied the request for an injunction in all respects.
This win on April 4th marked the firm’s second defeat of a preliminary injunction that week. The prior victory had come in a tech staffing dispute in Pennsylvania.
Pollard PLLC is a Fort Lauderdale, Florida based litigation boutique that focuses on competition cases. The firm and its members have extensive experience litigating complex non-compete, trade secret and antitrust cases in state and federal courts throughout Florida and beyond. For reach their office, please call 954-332-2380.