Court Modifies Geographical Restriction in order to Enforce a Non-Compete Contract

Eastcoast Guitar Center, Inc. v. Tedesco, 2000 Conn. Super. LEXIS 320

Eastcoast Guitar Center, Inc. was a company based in Danbury, CT and employed Mr. Richard Tedesco as a sales/customer service representative from 1997 to 1999.  The company had Mr. Tedesco sign a non-compete contract on January 27, 1997 that prohibited him for one year following his termination from competing directly or indirectly with Eastcoast Guitar within a one hundred mile radius of the store’s location at 25 Hayestown Road, Danbury, CT.  This provision created a protected/prohibited area that included the entire state of Connecticut and extended into portions of Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island.  Eastcoast Guitar terminated Mr. Tedesco’s employment on August 16, 1999 and he began to operate his own company known as Guitar Hangar, an internet-based guitar sales company.  Eastcoast Guitar sued Mr. Tedesco in Connecticut state court for violation of the non-compete contract and requested that the court issue an injunction to enforce the restrictions and prevent further violations of the covenant.

The court found in favor of Eastcoast Guitar and enforced the non-compete contract on a modified basis.  In its analysis, the court applied the five-prong test to assess the enforceability of the non-compete contract as stated in Robert S. Weiss & Associates, Inc. Wiederlight, 208 Conn. 525 (1988).  Specifically, the court looked at: 1) the scope of the time restriction, 2) the scope of the geographical restriction, 3) the protection afforded to the employer, 4) the restraint of the employee’s ability to obtain future employment, and lastly 5) the extent the agreement interfered with the public’s interest.  All of these factors must be reasonable in order for a plaintiff to be entitled to injunctive relief in a legal dispute.

The court, after reviewing all the evidence and testimony, found that the agreement satisfied the factors with exception of the geographical restriction.  It recognized that the company had a valid business interest that deserved protection and as such changed the geographical restriction from one hundred miles to thirty miles and ordered that the agreement be enforced.  The one hundred mile radius was too broad and overreaching according to the court and it felt that its modification of the restriction to prohibit only Fairfield, Litchfield, and New Haven counties was reasonable and legally acceptable under Connecticut law.

The lawyers at Maya Murphy, P.C., are experienced and knowledgeable employment and corporate law practitioners and assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and elsewhere in Fairfield County.  If you have any questions relating to your non-compete agreement or would like to discuss any element of your employment agreement, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

 

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