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Clark v. BluePearl Ky., LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

May 28, 2014

JASON CLARK, DVM, Plaintiff
v.
BLUEPEARL KENTUCKY, LLC, Defendant

Decided Date May 27, 2014

For DVM Jason Clark, Plaintiff: Cynthia L. Effinger, LEAD ATTORNEY, McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC - Louisville, Louisville, KY.

For BluePearl Kentucky, LLC, Defendant: Demetrius O. Holloway, Karen M. Paulin, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Stites & Harbison, PLLC - Louisville, Louisville, KY.

Page 710

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Thomas B. Russell, Senior United States District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon Plaintiff Jason Clark's Motion for Declaratory Judgment that Defendant BluePearl Kentucky, LLC " has no right to enforce a non-compete agreement between Plaintiff

Page 711

and his former employer." (Docket No. 10.) Defendant BluePearl Kentucky, LLC has responded. (Docket No. 12.) Plaintiff Clark has replied. (Docket No. 13.) This matter is now fully briefed and ripe for adjudication. For the following reasons, the Court will DENY Plaintiff Clark's Motion for Declaratory Judgment. (Docket No. 10.)

BACKGROUND

In July 2007, Plaintiff Clark, a veterinarian specializing in diseases of the eye, entered into an employment and noncompetition agreement (collectively " Employment Agreement" or " Agreement" ) with Eye Care for Animals, Inc. (ECFA). (Docket No. 1-2, at 3.) ECFA furnishes and leases employees to veterinary practices around the country. Beginning in 2010, ECFA leased Clark to Kentucky Eye Care for Animals, LLC (KECFA).[1] (Docket No. 1-2, at 4.)

In August 2013, KECFA went out of business and terminated its relationship with Clark claiming that it was not profitable. (Docket No. 1-2, at 5.) In September 2013, KECFA sold its assets, including its rights under the Employment Agreement between ECFA and Clark, to Defendant BluePearl, one of its former competitors. (Docket No. 1-2, at 5.)

Through his communications with ECFA and BluePearl, Clark has learned that BluePearl will seek to enforce the noncompetition portion of the Agreement if he takes a job in the " Restricted Territory" as defined in the Agreement. (Docket No. 10-1, at 3-4.) Clark brings this Motion for Declaratory Judgment requesting this Court declare BluePearl has no right to enforce the non-compete agreement. (Docket No. 10.)

I. Employment and Noncompetition Agreement

The Employment Agreement recites that ECFA furnishes and leases employees to entities, referred to as " Practices", engaged in the practice of veterinary medicine and that specialize in veterinary ophthalmology. (Docket No. 12-1, at 2.) It also states that ECFA employs Clark " for the purpose of providing veterinary medical and veterinary ophthalmology services to the Practices." (Docket No. 12-1, at 4.) Finally, it designates the " Practices" as intended beneficiaries of the Agreement and specifically states they, in addition to ECFA, " may enforce the Employee Covenants set forth in Attachment B" --which includes the covenant not to compete. (Docket No. 12-1, at 10.)

The covenant not to compete restricts Clark from practicing veterinary ophthalmology within ten miles of any veterinary ophthalmology practice where Clark worked for one year prior to his termination of his employment with ECFA. (Docket No. 12-1, at 16.) This restriction lasts for one year following termination of Clark's employment with ECFA. ( Id. ) In relevant part, it states:

A. Covenant Not to Compete. Upon the termination of Employee's employment with ECFA, for any reason, Employee hereby expressly covenants and agrees that, during the Restricted Period, as defined below, and within the Restricted Territory, as defined below, Employee will not practice veterinary ophthalmology, directly or indirectly, alone or with any partner, ...

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