HAPPY NEW YEAR LAWSUIT

Wow. Things are not slowing down here in our office.

Apparently, you nice folks of Virginia, employees and  new business owners who have hired employees from other companies, are getting sued left and right. And at Christmas too….

While I am not in a position to make sweeping statements about Virginia corporations and their litigation habits, I do think there is a trend occurring in the Commonwealth.

What trend?

Folks filing lawsuits over non-competes as an attempt to scare other folks into submission.

See, what plaintiff corporations and their lawyers hope is that when you get sued and they allege all this bad stuff, you will either (1) offer them money or (2) stop doing what they don’t like. I think very few of these companies are ready and willing to take the case to trial and prove that you breached your agreement, caused damages etc.

What do I mean “ready” to take the case to trial?

Thankfully, a company owner can’t just walk up to a Va. judge and say “Judge, he signed this. It says he can’t work for X. He works for a company that does X. We win.”

It is a much more complicated process. You as a plaintiff have the burden to prove the following in non-compete cases:
1. That the agreement is reasonable – narrowly tailored to protect your legitimate business interest and not overbearing or overbroad.
2. That Smith over there, did actually breach the Agreement.
3. That as a result of his breach, you suffered actual, calculable economic loss.

Now, this is not news to anyone, especially not corporate attorneys that file these lawsuits. Despite the very high burden of proof, lawsuits get filed all the time where plaintiffs can’t actually prove damages… because again, I think people secretly hope you will go away or pay up if you are sued.

So moral of the story is, not every lawsuit filed can be successful….but sometimes, people use the judicial process as a bargaining chip and they have every right to file suit if they think they can win.

Call us if you are facing a lawsuit this New Year – and we can help.

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Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at lellerman@frithlawfirm.com.