KX Industries, L.P. v. Saaski, 1997 Conn. Super. LEXIS 2444
Mr. Bruce Saaski worked for KX Industries, L.P., a manufacturer and distributor of solid carbon block water filters, from December 1993 to April 24, 1996, as the company’s Technical Support Manager. His employment contract with KXI contained several restrictive covenants that prohibited him from using or disclosing confidential and proprietary information without the prior written consent of KXI, maintaining personal copies of the company’s confidential information, or working for an industry competitor. The “industry competitor” restriction applied for one year after Mr. Saaski’s termination but the covenants pertaining to KXI’s confidential information were indefinite.
Mr. Saaski terminated his employment with KXI and began to work at Water Safety, a direct competitor, shortly thereafter. Additionally, he failed to return copies of confidential information to KXI’s management upon his termination. KXI sued Ms. Saaski for violation of the non-compete agreement he signed as part of his employment contract and sought a court injunction to enforce its provisions. Ms. Saaski presented several arguments to the court as to why the agreement was not valid or enforceable.
The court rejected his assertions however and found in favor of KXI, granting their request for enforcement of the non-compete and confidentiality covenants. Mr. Saaski attacked the non-compete on the basis that its lacked consideration, arguing that there existed a prior employment agreement obligating KXI to employ him for a two-year period.
The Court’s Decision
The court held that Mr. Saaski did not present adequate evidence to prove the existence of a prior employment agreement and pointed to the language of the December 1993 agreement to show that Mr. Saaski gave consideration for the agreement when he agreed to the restrictive covenants contained therein. Furthermore, Mr. Saaski contended that the restrictions were unreasonable because they were overly broad in scope, specifically referring to the prohibition on working for a company “similar to” or in “competition with” KXI.
To determine if this language was in fact overly broad the court heard testimony from KXI’s Chief Executive Officer where he stated that there were only four competitors that the non-compete applied to: Honeywell, Culligan, Multipure, and Water Safety, Mr. Saaski’s new employer. The court found this to be restricted in scope and not overly broad to disproportionately favor KXI’s interests. The restriction applied only to a small section of the water purification industry and KXI’s CEO provided a plethora of companies that Mr. Saaski could work for without violating the non-compete agreement.
The court found the overall non-compete and confidentiality covenants to be reasonable and concluded that they did not place excessive restriction on Mr. Saaski’s ability to pursue his occupation and earn a living. Accordingly, the court found in favor of KXI and enforced the provisions of the non-compete agreement.
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