Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District: Jumbosack Corp. v. Buyck

Last week the Missouri Court of Appeals’ Eastern District handed down an opinion sure to hinder employee efforts when violating their non-compete agreements.

The unanimous decision in Jumbosack Corp. v. Buyck, reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the employee Buyck, and remanded the case back to the trial court.

The court first rejected Buyck’s assertion that continued employment alone is not enough to be considered consideration when a non-compete is made after employment has begun.  They instead affirmed previous rulings and held that “continued employment and the attendant access to employer’s protectable information and relationships constitutes adequate consideration for a non-compete agreement executed after the inception of employment.”

 

The court then considered whether the trial court erred when granting summary judgment because one of the findings the trial court based their grant, that Jumbosack materially breached the employment agreement, should have been considered a question of fact for the fact finder.   In its brief, Buyck argued that Jumbosack unilaterally made material changes to the agreement. Buyck’s brief states that Jumbosack lowered Buyck’s salary from $70,000 to $57,000 while adding a commission rate, which was then lowered, and also initiated a new policy that would require Buyck to pay one-third of any unpaid invoice on potentially any order.   Buyck argued that these changes bar Jumbosack from enforcing the non-compete agreement.  In its response, Jumbosack challenged the materiality of the breaches by saying that the new commission component actually allowed Buyck to make more than his original $70,000 salary, and alleged that Buyck proposed the change in salary and commissions in an email to Jumbosack’s president.  Based on the court’s review of the pleadings, they found a genuine issue of material fact, and held the grant of summary judgment to be improper.

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