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12/28/89 Howard J. Shapiro Et Al., v. Regent Printing Company

December 28, 1989

HOWARD J. SHAPIRO ET AL., PLAINTIFFS AND COUNTERDEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS AND CROSS-APPELLEES

v.

REGENT PRINTING COMPANY, DEFENDANT AND COUNTERPLAINTIFF-APPELLEE AND CROSS-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FOURTH DIVISION

549 N.E.2d 793, 192 Ill. App. 3d 1005, 140 Ill. Dec. 142 1989.IL.2037

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Arthur L. Dunne, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE LINN delivered the opinion of the court. JOHNSON, J., concurs. PRESIDING JUSTICE JIGANTI, Dissenting.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE LINN

Howard J. Shapiro and Arla Graphics, Inc., plaintiffs, appeal from an order that enjoined them for two months from doing business with certain customers of Regent Printing Company, after Shapiro resigned from his employment with that company. Regent cross-appeals, contending that the restrictive covenant in Shapiro's employment contract is valid and enforceable and that, accordingly, an injunction for the contractual two-year period should have been entered.

For the reasons that follow, we dismiss the appeal on grounds of mootness.

Background

Howard Shapiro worked for Regent Printing Company for approximately seven years. The printing business is owned equally by its founder's three sons, Lester, William, and Delbert. Howard is Delbert's son.

Howard had no prior experience in the printing business before joining Regent in 1981. For the first two years he was trained in printing production techniques in preparation for his becoming a salesman.

Toward the end of 1982 Howard and Regent negotiated an employment agreement, which contained a two-year restrictive covenant. At trial Howard stated his belief that he would be discharged if he did not sign the contract.

The purpose of the restrictive covenant was to prevent Howard from divulging to others or using for himself any "information, knowledge, data or property related to Regent's business obtained while employed by Regent." The provision further required him to abstain from "solicit[ing] or accept[ing] orders or business from any of Regent's customers who were customers of Regent during the one year period prior to the date of [Howard's] termination of employment with Regent."

Howard resigned from Regent in February 1988 and immediately began working for ARLA, one of Regent's competitors. He initiated the pending action after Regent notified certain customers that Howard was contractually prohibited from doing business with them. Plaintiffs' three-count complaint sought injunctive relief against Regent as well as compensatory and punitive damages for interfering with business expectancies. In addition, Howard sought an accounting for commissions alleged to be owing to him.

Regent countersued, alleging breach of contract on the part of Howard, conspiracy to breach and intentional interference with contract on the part of ARLA, and overpayment of commissions to Howard.

Although both sides moved for preliminary injunctive relief, Howard withdrew his motion, and the matter proceeded on Regent's motion for ...


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