Covenants not to compete and similar contractual agreements are becoming more common in Texas and elsewhere in the nation. Generally speaking, these agreements are enforceable so long as they are reasonable in scope and duration. However, a Dallas employment covenant lawsuit seeking to enforce such an agreement may involve multiple issues as to the enforceability of the agreement and the parties’ respective rights and responsibilities thereunder.
Facts of the Case
In a recent appellate case arising in the 95th Judicial District Court of Dallas County, Texas, the plaintiff was a business that hired the defendant coach to provide training for athletes. The parties’ relationship was put into writing in the form of an employment contract, which included a non-compete agreement. About three years later, the defendant voluntarily terminated his relationship with the plaintiff but continued in the same line of work. A few months after that, the plaintiff filed suit against the plaintiff, asserting a claim for breach of contract and seeking an injunction preventing the defendant from competing with the defendant or attempting to solicit business from the defendant’s customers.
Thereafter, the plaintiff filed a notice of nonsuit pursuant to Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 162, and the district court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims without prejudice. The defendant, who had asked for attorney fees in his answer, filed a motion asking the trial court to vacate its judgment dismissing “all claims.” According to the defendant, the court had been overly broad in dismissing his pending claim for attorney fees under the Texas Non-Compete Act and/or the Declaratory Judgment Act. The trial court denied the relief sought by the defendant, and he appealed.