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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 1 today (and 8 NFP)

For publication opinions today (1):

In Nightingale Home Healthcare, Inc. v. Carey Helmuth and Physiocare Home Healthcare, LLC, a 10-page opinion, Judge Riley writes:

Issue: Whether the trial court properly found, as a matter of law, that a ten-day break in employment more than two years ago marked the commencement of Helmuth’s Non-Compete Agreement.

Nightingale is an Indiana corporation engaged in the business of providing in-home healthcare, hospice care, and private duty care to Indiana residents. On January 24, 2008, Helmuth commenced his employment with Nightingale as a patient advocate, promoting Nightingale’s home healthcare services in the community and to facilities and physicians who were in a position to refer patients. As a condition of his employment, Helmuth was required to enter into a Non-Compete Agreement, which protects Nightingale’s proprietary and confidential information and geographically restricts Helmuth’s ability to unfairly compete with Nightingale for a period of two years after separation from the company. Every Nightingale employee signs a Non-Compete Agreement, and it is known and understood by all employees that such agreements are an essential term and condition of their employment.

On October 16, 2009, Nightingale terminated Helmuth’s employment for “substandard work” and “violation of company policies.” (Appellant’s App. p. 250). After his termination from Nightingale, Helmuth ceased to receive compensation, benefits, or perform tasks for the company. He began the process to collect unemployment compensation benefits. However, based on conversations between Nightingale and Helmuth following his termination, Nightingale offered “to revoke his termination” and have him “return to work in his prior position subject to the [Non-Compete Agreement] and the prior terms and conditions of his employment.” (Appellant’s App. p. 186). On October 26, 2009, Nightingale re-hired Helmuth. Helmuth was never asked to, nor did he sign a new Non-Compete Agreement.

Helmuth’s employment with Nightingale ended on March 5, 2012. Almost immediately thereafter, Helmuth accepted employment with Physiocare as a patient advocate, a similar position to the one he held during his employment with Nightingale and in the similar geographical market he previously worked in. * * *

Mindful that non-compete agreements are disfavored by law and strictly construed against the employer, we conclude that there is no issue of material fact that Helmuth was indeed separated from Nightingale on October 16, 2009, which marked the starting point of the two-year restrictive period of the Non-Compete Agreement. Absent the execution of a new non-compete agreement on October 26, 2009 or a written extension of the prior Non-Compete Agreement, Helmuth’s restrictive period ended on or about October 16, 2011. Therefore, at the time of entering into an employment relationship with Physiocare in May of 2012, Helmuth was no longer bound by the provisions of the Non-Compete Agreement.

NFP civil opinions today (3):

In Roger Long v. Advanced Pain Management (NFP), a 9-page, 2-1 opinion, Judge Riley concludes:

Thus, finding no basis on which to affirm the trial court’s decision, we conclude that the trial court erred in denying Long’s motion. Therefore, we reverse and remand this case for further proceedings.

ROBB, J. concurs
BRADFORD, J. dissents with separate opinion [which reads in full] I respectfully dissent. Given our preference to decide cases on the merits, the discretion afforded to a trial court in managing its docket, and the fact that I believe that the trial court was in the best position to gauge whether Long’s request for dismissal of the underlying action pursuant to Indiana Trial Rule 41(E) should have been granted, I would affirm the judgment of the trial court.

In the Matter of the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of: D.S. (Minor Child) and T.S. (Mother) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services (NFP)

In re the Involuntary Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of: A.K. & H.K. (minor children) and A.K. (Mother) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services (NFP)

NFP criminal opinions today (5):

Ryan Worline v. State of Indiana (NFP)

David K. Asiedu v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Mitchell Mulnix v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Monisha Rhodes v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Daryl Gilbert v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 28, 2014 02:06 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions