By: David Poppick
Saylavee, LLC v. Hunt demonstrates the willingness of courts, in this case Connecticut, to enforce restrictive covenants that are reasonable in length of time and geographic scope.
The defendant Rhonda Hunt worked as an exercise instructor for an exercise studio called Bodyfit, with whom she signed an agreement restricting her for two-years from becoming involved as an employee “in any business which engages in the same or similar business of the company or otherwise competes with the business of the company within a ten mile radius of any exercise studio owned and operated by the company.” Hunt acknowledged in the agreement that she was capable of earning a living in a field for which she was qualified without violating the terms of the covenants. The agreement also addresses protected trade secrets and provides for equitable relief without the necessity of proving irreparable harm or the inadequacy of money damages.
Hunt resigned her job at Bodyfit on August 12, 2011, and at first, honored the non-compete by working at exercise studios more than 10 miles from Bodyfit. In July 2012, she began working at the Equinox gym less than two miles from the Bodyfit gym. She taught exercising classes at Equinox similar to those offered at Bodyfit, and Equinox had the same potential clientele.
In its May 7, 2013 decision , the Superior Court of the State of Connecticut found that the non-competition agreement was in “plain speak” and that Hunt had signed it without showing it to her husband, who was a lawyer. With reference to trade secrets and non-competition covenants, the Court found, “that all of these expensive facilities like to have what they call at Equinox, their ‘signature programs’”, which Hunt was teaching to the same potential clientele as she had taught at the Bodyfit location only two miles away from Equinox and with another year remaining on the term of the non-compete agreement, which prohibited her conduct.
Based on these facts and a plain reading of the restrictive covenants, the Court entered a temporary injunction enjoining: (1) Hunt from working at Equinox or any other exercise establishment within 10 miles of Bodyfit; (2) revealing any of Bodyfit’s proprietary business information to anyone; and (3) soliciting any current or former Bodyfit clients for business.