Pollard PLLC Beats Holland & Knight’s Bid for Summary Judgment in Energy Hauling Non-Compete Dispute

Pollard PLLC has won another victory, this time defeating mega-firm Holland & Knight’s bid for partial summary judgment in a complex non-compete and trade secret case.  The case is currently pending in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida – Tampa Division and involves rival energy trucking companies.

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The facts, as alleged, are fairly straightforward:  Lucky Cousins Trucking became a sub-hauler for the conglomerate QCER, which specializes in transporting oil and gas.  QCER terminated the parties’ sub-hauling agreement alleging that Lucky had engaged in “intentional misconduct and fraudulent acts.”  Lucky was potentially subject to various restrictive covenants.  Lucky sued first in the MDFL, alleging breach of the operative agreement, fraud, conversion, defamation and seeking a declaratory judgment nullifying various non-compete provisions.

QCER counterclaimed, suing Lucky for breach of various promissory notes, breach of the non-compete and theft of trade secrets.  Since the outset of the litigation, Pollard PLLC, representing Lucky and affiliated parties, has won virtually every significant motion in the case.

QCER moved to dismiss the First Amended Complaint.  The Court summarily denied the motion.  QCER moved for a preliminary injunction.  After extensive briefing, the Court denied the motion on the papers, holding that QCER simply could not meet its burden of establishing the non-compete agreements were necessary to protect a legitimate business interest.  In denying the motion for preliminary injunction, the Court relied – in part – on another non-compete decision won by Pollard (IDMWORKS v. Pophaly, 192 F. Supp. 3d 1335 (S.D. Fla. 2016)).  QCER then moved for reconsideration on its request for a preliminary injunction.  The court summarily denied that request.

After losing at the preliminary injunction stage, QCER replaced its original counsel with mega-firm Holland & Knight.  Fast forward to the present day:  In spite of discovery being ongoing, Holland & Knight took an early shot at partial summary judgment, seeking summary judgment on a number of Lucky’s claims and seeking summary judgment on their own claim for breach of a promissory note.  Yesterday, on April 4, 2017, Pollard PLLC filed an aggressive response in opposition to QCER’s motion for partial summary judgment. Today, less than 24-hours after Lucky’s response was filed, the Court entered an order denying QCER’s early bid for summary judgment.

Quoting firm principal Jonathan Pollard, “QCER has a whole lot of money and, yes, they can afford to hire a 1,000 lawyer shop.  Their strategy seems pretty clear: Wear us down and drive up our litigation costs.  Well, that strategy only gets you so far.  Might does not make right.  And as far as big firms go, you can ask around.  The bigger they are, the more fun it is to beat up on them.  Just go ask Proskauer Rose.”

Pollard and colleagues David Yaffe and Deaken Shuler all pitched in on the briefing.  Pollard gives his team all the praise, “David and Deaken did the lion’s share of the work on this one.  They really deserve all the credit.”

In terms of what comes next, Pollard noted the following, “I think beating a non-compete that serves no legitimate purpose other than to prevent fair competition is a tremendous victory for justice and for working people.  If my client is willing to go all the way, so are we.  I’ll put my five lawyers up against their 1,000 lawyers any day.”

The case is Lucky Cousins Trucking v. QC Energy Resources Texas, 8:16-cv-866-T (MDFL 2016).

 

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