Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed, in part, a Broward Circuit Court temporary injunction involving a non-competition covenant between business competitors. 4UORTHO, LLC v. Practice partners, Inc., Physician Wellness Products, LLC, et. al., 18 So.3d 41, 43-44 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009). The injunction prohibited “soliciting any practices which are current or prospective clients” of the plaintiff, a business that provides orthopedic physicians and their practices with administrative support in managing their worker’s compensation prescription claims receivables and other services. The appellate court held the injuction was, in part, “vague or overbroad,” citing Angelino v. Santa Barbara Enters., LLC, 2 So.3d 1100, 1104 (Fla. 3d DCA 2009) (reversing entry of temporary injunction because vague language rendered the injunction overly broad). The appellate court also directed the trial court to apply a time restriction to its order.
Under Florida law, to establish that a non-competition agreement is lawful, a party must plead and prove the existence of one or more legitimate interests that justify the restrictive covenant. Once the proponent of the injunction has established that the restraint is reasonably necessary to protect a legitimate business interest, the burden shifts to the opposing party to establish that the agreement is overbroad or otherwise not reasonably necessary.
Although the trial judge has broad discretion to fashion a temporary injunction, the contractual terms as well as Florida law restrict the breadth of the injunction. In this case, the trial court’s order did not place limits on the reach of the injunction. Even lawful competition could have been prohibited by the trial court’s injunction.
Attorney Peter Mavrick advises management regarding various problems they encounter with employees, including issues involving restrictive covenants, employee compensation, misconduct, performance problems, demotion, and termination. Mr. Mavrick also has successfully represented many employers in litigation in Florida state courts and federal courts, including trial and appellate proceedings. Mr. Mavrick regularly studies changes in federal and Florida labor and employment laws, including legal trends affecting the interests of management.