Friday, December 17, 2010

Equitable Tolling of Non-Compete Not Available In Massachusetts Absent Contract Provision (EMC Corp. v. Arturi)

A federal district court has held that, under Massachusetts law, a non-compete restriction cannot be extended beyond the terms of the contract.

The case involved a suit filed by EMC Corporation against Chris Blotto. EMC originally filed suit in March of 2010, about 4 months after Blotto left EMC to join Knowledgent Group. It did not pursue injunctive relief until August, and at that time, it only sought to enforce a customer non-solicitation provision given evidence that Blotto was soliciting an EMC customer.
In November, EMC filed a second preliminary injunction motion, this time seeking, among other things, to prevent Blotto from working with Knowledgent for one year from the date of the order. The court denied the motion on the grounds that extending the restriction past December 4, 2010 was not allowed under Massachusetts law.

The court declined to endorse a broad application of the equitable tolling rule and indicated that EMC could easily amend its employment agreement to give it the right to toll the non-compete period during the period of an employee's breach. The court did not find that the reason for delay in seeking injunctive relief was important to its holding.
Court: United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
Opinion Date: 12/15/10
Cite: EMC Corp. v. Arturi, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132621 (D. Mass. Dec. 15, 2010)
Favors: Employee
Law: Massachusetts

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