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09/24/87 A. B. Dick Company, v. American Pro-Tech Et Al.

September 24, 1987

A. B. DICK COMPANY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

AMERICAN PRO-TECH ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FOURTH DIVISION

514 N.E.2d 45, 159 Ill. App. 3d 786, 112 Ill. Dec. 649 1987.IL.1427

Date Filed: September 24, 1987; Modified on Denial of Rehearing September 24, 1987.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Albert Green, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE JOHNSON delivered the opinion of the court. LINN, J., concurs. JUSTICE JIGANTI, specially Concurring.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE JOHNSON

Plaintiff, the A. B. Dick Company, brought this action against defendants in the circuit court of Cook County. Defendants are three of plaintiff's former employees, Scott S. Regula, Joseph W. Secedi, and Mark Zoromski, and the competing company that they founded, American Professional Services, Inc., also known as American Pro-Tech. The trial court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining Zoromski from violating his non-competition agreement with plaintiff. The trial court subsequently dissolved the TRO and denied plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction.

We reverse and remand.

The record shows that plaintiff provides maintenance and repair services for copiers, microfiche equipment, and offset printing equipment. Plaintiff also manufactures and sells such equipment. Plaintiff sells its maintenance and repair services through branch offices in geographic territories.

Mark Dipple, the manager of plaintiff's Chicago suburban branch office, and defendant Zoromski testified at the preliminary injunction hearing. Dipple testified that his branch has executed between 800 and 1,000 verified preventive maintenance agreements with its customers. A maintenance agreement provides that plaintiff, in exchange for a fixed payment, will service the customer's equipment as needed for the term of the agreement and also will perform a specified number of preventive maintenance calls on the equipment. The agreement is for a one-year term and automatically renews from year to year unless the customer cancels it. Dipple testified that as a result, many of plaintiff's customers are long-standing, having had maintenance agreements from the time that they first bought copiers or duplicating equipment.

Plaintiff services its customers not only through maintenance agreements, but also on a time and material basis. Dipple testified that the Chicago suburban branch received between 35% and 40% of its total revenue from servicing customers under both maintenance agreements and on a time and material basis.

The record further shows that plaintiff employed defendant Zoromski as a "technical representative" at its Chicago suburban branch from mid-June 1981 to March 1986. Dipple testified that technical representatives perform all of the maintenance and service for plaintiff's maintenance agreement customers and its time and material customers. They sell maintenance agreements to customers and convert time and material customers to maintenance agreement customers. Dipple further testified that technical representatives are the primary employees responsible for maintaining goodwill with plaintiff's customers.

Zoromski testified that he had no experience in servicing or marketing copiers or other duplicating equipment prior to his employment with plaintiff. As a result of his training and experience with plaintiff, Zoromski achieved the second highest level of technical representative, requiring of him a specified amount of training, experience, and certification in certain of plaintiff's products.

The record shows that plaintiff requires all of its technical representatives to sign non-competition agreements. Dipple testified that these covenants protect plaintiff from unfair competitive disadvantages caused by former employees using its confidential information to solicit customers away from it and also protect plaintiff's longstanding customer relationships. Plaintiff required Zoromski to sign a noncompetition agreement. The restrictive covenant obligated Zoromski not to compete with plaintiff "in equipment repair and maintenance activity" during his employment ...


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