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05/31/94 CREATIVE ENTERTAINMENT v. TONY LORENZ AND

May 31, 1994

CREATIVE ENTERTAINMENT, INC., PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
TONY LORENZ AND PROACTIVE, INC., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Richard L. Curry, Judge Presiding.

Rehearing Denied August 2, 1994. As Modified on Denial of Rehearing August 8, 1994.

Manning, Campbell, O'Connor, Jr.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Manning

MODIFIED ON DENIAL OF REHEARING

JUSTICE MANNING delivered the opinion of the court:

This is an appeal by plaintiff, Creative Entertainment Corporation from a judgment of the trial court dismissing count I of plaintiff's complaint. On appeal, plaintiff argues that the trial court erred in dismissing count I of its complaint.

Plaintiff, Creative Entertainment, is an Illinois corporation engaged in the business of providing special event and entertainment production services to corporations, businesses and associations. According to the pleadings, the services provided by plaintiff to its clients include planning and arranging of meetings, conventions, trade shows, product introductions, real estate openings, employee functions, seasonal events and corporate anniversary celebrations. Additionally, the services provided by plaintiff included production and on-site supervision of all such events.

About October 1988, plaintiff through its president, entered into an oral agreement with defendant Tony Lorenz, whereby Lorenz was employed as an account executive with plaintiff. In that capacity he was responsible for soliciting and generating new business, preparing proposals for new and existing customers, and implementing proposals and contracts. As part of his employment, Lorenz received health benefits, a salary and commissions from plaintiff.

About eight months after he began working with plaintiff, Lorenz was required to sign a restrictive covenant, the pertinent terms related to this appeal being:

"This letter will confirm our understanding and agreement that as part of the terms of your employment by CEG Creative Entertainment, Inc. ("CEG") and in consideration for your continued employment at CEG and for other good and valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which are hereby acknowledged: * * *

(a) You agree that CEG has a legitimate and valuable proprietary interest in the protection of the Confidential Information defined in paragraph 3, and that CEG has invested substantial amounts, in rent, equipment, staff support, and other over-head expenses to obtain and serve CEG's customers.

(b) You agree that, during your employment, you will contact or solicit customers or potential customers only for CEG and for a two-year period following termination of your employment for any reason, you will not contact or solicit any person or entity that was a customer of CEG during the two-year period prior to the date of termination of your employment at CEG or develop, sell, or administer any entertainment programming for these customers."

About October 17, 1992, Lorenz voluntarily resigned from employment with plaintiff, having been employed for over three years. Later that month, Lorenz started his own company, ProActive corporation. The nature of ProActive's business included providing special event and entertainment production services to corporations and businesses. Lorenz contacted several of plaintiff's former clients, successfully acquiring a contract with at least one client to provide services in connection with an entertainment event.

Following these actions by Lorenz through ProActive corporation, plaintiff filed a two count complaint naming as defendants Lorenz and ProActive corporation. Count one of the amended complaint sought injunctive relief, alleging that defendants violated the agreement's prohibition against contacting or soliciting, for a period of two years following the termination of his employment, any customer of plaintiff. Plaintiff alleged that as a result of defendants' ...


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