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Why Modifying a Non-Compete Doesn't Mean Court "Split the Baby"


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1/1/2016
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It was interesting to read Larry Connors's view of how the judge in his case reached her ruling which invalidated the part of his non-compete agreement that not only barred him from working for a competitor in television news for one year, but also prevented him from working in radio as well.

In Connors's view, “[I]t was kind of like splitting the baby, trying to make both sides happy.”

While that may be the practical outcome, I highly doubt that is how or why the judge reached that conclusion; indeed, the judge's comments in rendering her ruling are quite instructive:

1) First, and as a threshold matter, KMOV was able to enforce Connors's non-compete - even though they fired him - because they terminated him for cause (parenthetically, the judge found that they did not act wrongfully in doing so).

2) They confirm her belief that the TV station, KMOV, did not have a "legitimate interest" that would require banning Connors from working in radio, as there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate that his working in radio would harm KMOV.

3) Despite finding that the radio provision of the agreement was overbroad, the judge declined to "throw the baby out with the bathwater," instead choosing to "blue-line" the agreement, and only striking the radio provision while leaving intact the remainder of the non-compete agreement.

In these 3 important ways, the judge's ruling was entirely consistent with New York law principles.

 



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