A recent case from the Beaumont Court of Appeals highlighted the difficulty that employers sometimes face in enforcing noncompete agreements in Texas. In this case, a physician practice group sued one of its former physicians for violating a noncompete agreement. The physician had left the practice and started his own practice within the proscribed 22-mile radius. The trial court denied the practice’s request for a temporary injunction.
The court of appeals affirmed. In doing so, the court emphasized that when the noncompete was signed, and the 22-mile radius agreed to, the population of the city in question was roughly half what it was years later when the practice sought to enforce the covenant. The court also noted that the practice had failed to prove that the physician had disseminated any of the practice’s confidential information, or that the practice had suffered a loss of revenue due to the physician’s actions. In short, the practice had failed to prove irreparable harm–which is a prerequisite to obtaining a temporary injunction in Texas.
The court also noted that the result at the final trial might be very different. At the permanent injunction stage, the employer need not prove irreparable harm.