Zimmer, Inc. v. Albring, 2008 WL 2604969 (E.D. Mich.June 27, 2008)

Judge Steeh in the Eastern District of Michigan carefully crafted a narrowly tailored injunction order to prevent a former employee (Albring) from violating her non-compete and non-solicit agreements, but allowed her to remain employed by her new employer, and to be paid by that employer, pending the expiration of the restrictive covenants.   Albring had entered into an arrangement to become employed full-time by a competitor of her former employer, Zimmer (both in the surgical implant business) pending expiration of her restrictive covenants. Her deal paid her “$3,000 per week to do nothing as the company is waiting for her non-compete agreement with Zimmer to run out and then she will begin selling . . . products for them.” Judge Steeh found that Albring’s profitable arrangement did not violate the non-compete, because she was not actively selling competing products. 

Zimmer also argued that Albring should be enjoined on the grounds that it put the company’s confidential information at risk. The court rejected that argument based on its conclusion that none of the information that the company sought to protect were properly raised. The court said that “Zimmer has not shown or even alleged any trade secrets involving surgical implants or the identity of [defendant’s] customers. . . .” 2008 WL 2604969 at *6. The court went on to reject any claim that customer information was confidential, noting that the defendant claimed that the targeted surgeons were friends of hers before she became employed by Zimmer and “[i]n any event, their identity is easily accessible and can be located merely by checking the telephone book.” 

Nonetheless, the Court did enjoin the defendant from a second job that put her in direct contact with the same surgeons and had the effect of promoting or selling surgical implants that competed with Zimmer’s.