Noncompete enforceable (LA law) but damages excessive

The plaintiff in Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. v. Babcock obtained a $1.2 million judgment for violation of a noncompetition agreement in the insurance field.  No. 11-30452 (Dec. 18, 2012).   The Fifth Circuit affirmed the enforceability of the agreement.  As to its substance, the Court held that Gallagher’s prohibition of employees from competing for accounts on which they actually worked at Gallagher was “less restrictive than allowed under state law.”  As to geographic scope, the Court affirmed the district court’s narrowing of the provision from 64 parishes to the 9 in which Gallagher actually provided insurance services.  The Court vacated the damages because the key witness conflated (a) the group of clients who chose to leave Gallagher after the employee left with (b) the group of clients who actually followed Gallagher to his new employer.  See id. at 18 (“Defendants did not breach their agreements by leaving GBSI, but by accepting work from clients who departed along with them.”)

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