Although trial courts are afforded broad discretion when granting, modifying, or denying an injunction, Rosenthal Law Group successfully argued on appeal that the trial court abused its discretion when denying the motion for temporary injunction in the case of GFA International, Inc. v. Trillas, 327 So. 3d 872 (Fla. 3d DCA 2021). The appellate court reversed the trial court’s order denying the motion for temporary injunctions and remanded the case to the trial court for entry of temporary injunction.
The case stemmed from a claim by GFA against a former employee for violating a restrictive covenant agreement. Following a five-day evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied the motion for temporary injunction. Among the several grounds for denying the temporary injunction, the trial court determined that an injunction against an employee during the Covid-19 Pandemic was a hardship on the employee.
The Third District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order denying temporary injunctive relief. In its lengthy opinion, the appellate court concluded that GFA established that the restraints in the restrictive covenant agreement reasonably served a legitimate business interest and that GFA presented unrebutted evidence that the former employer violated the plain terms of the restrictive covenant agreement by engaging in business activity in direct competition with GFA and diverting customers from GFA. The court rejected the former employee’s argument that there should be a carve-out exception permitting employees to continue to solicit customers that they developed during their employment. The court further held that the trial court erred in considering the former employee’s individualized hardship (i.e., precluding the former employee from working in his field amid a pandemic) as a public policy justification to deny injunctive relief.
The appellate court remanded the case to the trial court to enter the temporary injunction.
This decision protects businesses that utilize restrictive covenant agreements to protect their legitimate business interests. Companies should consult with legal counsel to ensure that their procedures and agreements are sufficient to protect their legitimate business interests adequately.