Indefinite noncompete, explicit online chat, fees awarded.

In Kenyon International Emergency Services, Inc. v. Malcolm, the Fifth Circuit found no abuse of discretion in an award of attorneys fees under a Texas statute to the defendants in a suit to enforce a noncompetition agreement. No. 12-20306 (May 14, 2013, unpublished).  The Court clarified that “the key determination is [plaintiff’s] knowledge of reasonable limits, not . . . its knowledge of the reasonableness of the agreement” (emphasis in original).  As it saw the record, the plaintiff’s CEO testified that the restrictions “were worldwide, overreaching in scope of activity, and basically indefinite in time.”  The Court also reversed a sanction on the plaintiff’s lawyer related to the unsealed filing of a “sexually-explicit Internet chat,” reminding that “[i]ssuing a show-cause order is a mandatory prerequisite to imposing monetary sanctions sua sponte,” and finding that the lawyer did not have an improper purpose in making the filing and thus did not fall within Rule 11.

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