During the dog days of summer, anything with the word “freeze” may sound appealing. But if the freeze is a “trustee process attachment” (tying up a bank or other institutional account), a whole different set of emotions can be evoked. As I discussed in Gain Leverage by Freezing Bank Accounts – Part I and Part II, knowing the law surrounding trustee process attachments can create or defuse significant and sometimes dispositive leverage. Further, and as the Federal District Court reminded us recently in DeBenedictis v. Dougherty, the speed with which a party acts or reacts when a trustee process is sought can be critical.… Keep reading
Injunctions and Attachments
In order to obtain a an injunction under federal law, the moving party has to show each of the following:
(i) It has a likelihood of success on the merits of its claim.
(ii) Without injunctive relief, it would risk suffering irreparable harm.
(iii) Such harm outweighs the irreparable harm that the non-moving party would suffer if an injunction were to enter.
(iv) Entering an injunction is in the public interest.
In addition, however, Rule 65(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that:
The court may issue a preliminary injunction or a temporary restraining order only if the movant gives security in an amount that the court considers proper to pay the costs and damages sustained by any party found to have been wrongfully enjoined or restrained.
Indeed, as a recent case from the District of Massachusetts confirms, this is no small technicality, and something to which any company should give due consideration before having its outside litigation counsel seek injunctive relief.… Keep reading
When seeking preliminary injunctive relief to enforce a non-compete, the moving party is often focused on how obvious it is that the defendant breached the parties’ agreement. As 7-Eleven recently learned, however, even when there is a valid and enforceable noncompetition provision and a clear breach of it, unless you can show that you will suffer irreparable harm without an injunction, and that such harm outweighs the irreparable harm to the defendant that an injunction would inflict, a court will not issue injunctive relief. … Keep reading
In a prior blog post Three Issues In-House Counsel Should Raise Before Asking Employees To Sign Non-Competes, my co-publisher, Shep Davidson, provided suggestions to help in-house counsel ensure that non-competition restrictions on employees were appropriate and enforceable.
As it is Valentine’s Day, we look at three ways in which enforcement of non-competition agreements is like dating.
1. Has there been a material change in the relationship? Massachusetts courts have long held that a material change in the terms and conditions of an employee’s employment will void an otherwise valid non-competition agreement. What constitutes a material change, however, can vary widely depending upon which judge is hearing the case. Some judges have applied the material change doctrine only where the change was adverse to the employee (Grace Hunt IT Solutions, LLC v. SIS Software, LLC, 29 Mass. L. Rptr. 460, 2012 WL 108825 (Mass. Super. 2012; Lauriat, J.); R.E. Moulton, Inc. v. Lee, 18 Mass. L. Rptr. 157, 2004 WL 1894910 (Mass. Super. 2004; Kottmeyer, J.). Other judges have applied the material change where the employee had been promoted, demoted and promoted again (Akibia, Inc. v. Hood, No. SUCV201202974F (Mass. Super. Ct. Oct. 09, 2012); Lycos, Inc. v. Jackson, … Keep reading
However, as of Friday, April 13, in a case brought by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. District Court of South Carolina decided to strike down the requirement to post notices informing employees of their rights to unionize under the NLRA. The South Carolina federal court decided that the posting requirements exceeded the authority of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the entity charged with enforcing the NLRA. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals promptly followed, issuing an injunction putting the notice posting requirement on hold, pending the resolution of whether or not the NLRB had the authority to issue the notice posting requirement.
As a result, yesterday afternoon, the NLRB announced that its regional offices would not implement the rule requiring posting of notices of NLRA rights while the appeal of the D.C. Circuit’s decision is pending. … Keep reading
As implied by my prior posting on trustee process attachments (“Gain Leverage By Freezing Bank Accounts – Part I, Offense“), the best way to avoid having your own bank account frozen is to make sure that you do not use a bank that has branches in Massachusetts. Even if your company does bank in Massachusetts, however, there are measures that can be taken to decrease the chances of having the company’s bank account frozen through a trustee process attachment.
An often overlooked fact about trustee process attachments is that payroll accounts are exempt from being attached. Thus, one prophylactic strategy you can employ is to fund your payroll account early and abundantly in order to shield as much money as possible from being attached. Be forewarned, however, that the payroll account exemption only applies if the account is used exclusively for payroll. Thus, if a company places money in its payroll account and later uses it for something other than payroll, the entire account can be attached – even those funds that are needed to comply with the company’s payroll obligation. Accordingly, and because there may be no better way to bring a company to its knees … Keep reading
As all good lawyers know, having leverage is everything, whether you are doing a transaction or trying to settle a dispute. And what could be better leverage than a court order directing your adversary’s bank to freeze the funds in an operating account? Obviously, such a potent weapon could, and often does, allow a plaintiff to dictate the terms of settlement to the defendant. While being able to do this might sound like a fantasy, Massachusetts courts routinely order a freeze on bank accounts through a mechanism called a “trustee process attachment.” Further, some judges even issue trustee process attachments ex parte, i.e., without the defendant having an opportunity to oppose the request for such relief.
If in-house counsel understand how trustee process attachments work, they can help position their companies to more easily (i) obtain trustee process attachments against future adversaries and (ii) avoid having their own bank accounts frozen.… Keep reading