Articles Posted in Commercial Litigation

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The business world has become so competitive today that many companies are requiring that their employees sign non-competition agreements (“non-compete” agreements) as a condition of employment. Our Miami commercial litigation lawyers know how these agreements are essentially restrictive covenants that limit the time, place and manner in which an employee can work if he or she chooses to leave a particular job. For example, if you work in the high frequency trading industry and you wish to work for a different company, your non-compete agreement may restrict you from working in that same field for at least one year. Whether this is fair depends on a number of factors.

In Florida, Fla. Stat. § 542.335 is the governing law regarding the validity of non-compete agreements. These restrictive agreements are completely legal so long as the following conditions are met:

• The agreement must be reasonable in time, place and manner, meaning the agreement cannot restrict your ability to work in an area of business outside the realm of your former employment;

• The agreement must be signed by the employee; and
• There must be a legitimate business interest for the imposition of the restrictive non-compete agreement (such as the protection of trade secrets, confidential business information, interference with customer base, the risk of a former employee going to a competing company that is within the same geographical area, etc.)
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Over the past five weeks, the well at the former site of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig has pumped thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Experts estimate that somewhere between 18 and 39 million gallons have leaked into the Gulf so far, although the exact number is not known. It is the largest oil spill in U.S. history. In comparison, when the Exxon Valdez ran aground in 1989, it spilled only 11 million gallons into Prince William Sound. This may be the most serious ecological disaster in United States history, and we will feel the repercussions for years to come.

Though the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill only recently happened, and efforts by BP have yet to fully contain the spill, residents of Louisiana and Florida have already begun to experience severe hardships due to this disaster. Fishermen have lost significant income, as they have been banned from fishing in more than one-fifth of the Gulf of Mexico. Hotels, beach resorts, charter vessels and other industries centered on tourism have felt the force of this oil spill, as many people have either been forced to cancel their travel plans or have done so out of fear. The result has been significant economic damages and loss to individuals and businesses who rely on the once-pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico for their livelihood.

Although authorities are still investigating the cause of the explosion, some preliminary reports indicate that Transocean Ltd., the owner of the Deepwater Horizon, and BP, which leased the rig, may be responsible. According to a Wall Street Journal audit of federal Mineral Management Service incident reports, since 2008, nearly 75 percent of incidents aboard deep-water oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico that triggered federal investigations into safety and other problems occurred on rigs owned by Transocean. Although some of these incidents did involve problems with blowout preventers – the piece of equipment that appears to have failed at the Deepwater Horizon well – others appear to have been relatively minor infractions.

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