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Ortho Solutions, LC v. Sanchez

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

June 12, 2019

ORTHO SOLUTIONS, LC d/b/a DYNAFLEX, Plaintiff,
v.
ERIC SANCHEZ, Defendant.

          OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HENRY EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, [Doc. No. 6] and Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and/or Transfer, [Doc. No. 14]. On May 29, 2019, the Court heard oral arguments on both motions. Furthermore, additional time was allowed for the parties to submit further memoranda.

         The Court's Order addresses Defendant's motion to dismiss for improper venue pursuant to Rule 12(b)(3) and § 1406(a) and motion to transfer venue pursuant to § 1404(a).

         FACTS[1]

         DynaFlex is headquartered in St. Ann, Missouri. For over 50 years, DynaFlex has manufactured and distributed products worldwide in five dental related markets: Orthodontic Products, Orthodontic Laboratory, Dental Sleep Medicine, Clear Aligners and Digital Office Solutions. Over the course of the years of operation, DynaFlex has created a substantial and significant customer base and reputation for its products and customer service.

         Effective March 28, 2016, Sanchez began his employment at DynaFlex as a sales representative/territory manager. Sanchez's territory was in California, specifically from Santa Barbara to San Diego and everything in between. In his role, Sanchez was selling DynaFlex products and services within interstate commerce as DynaFlex's products were shipped from warehouses located in St. Louis, Missouri for sales worldwide. Sanchez reported to the Vice President of Sales, who was located at headquarters in St. Ann, Missouri.

         In his position as sales representative/territory manager, Sanchez had access to confidential information pertaining to DynaFlex's customers and products. Because of Sanchez's direct involvement in the expansion of DynaFlex's sales within his California territory, he participated in the creation of DynaFlex's trade secrets involving those customers within his territory. For this reason, DynaFlex required as a condition of his employment that Sanchez execute the NonCompetition and Confidentiality Agreement.

         On March 28, 2016, Sanchez (while attending training physically at DynaFlex's headquarters in St. Ann, Missouri) accepted the terms and signed the Non-Competition and Confidentiality Agreement with DynaFlex (the “Agreement”). The Agreement prohibits Sanchez from working with a competitor of DynaFlex for two (2) years after employment with DynaFlex. Specifically, Section 1(a) of the Agreement provides:

Non-Competition Agreement. Employee agrees that during Employee's employment with Company and for two (2) years after such employment shall have terminated for any reason, Employee shall not in any manner or in any capacity, directly or indirectly;
(a)own, manage, control or participate in the ownership, management, operation or control of or have any interest, financial or otherwise, in or act as an officer, director, partner, member, manager, employee, agent, representative, consultant or independent contractor of, or assist in any way in, or assist any individual or entity in the conduct of, any business locate in or doing business in North America which is engaged in any business competitive to and/or with any business now or at any time during the period hereof engaged in by Company or any subsidiary, parent or affiliate of Company.

         The Agreement further prohibits Sanchez from soliciting DynaFlex's clients or customers, which is set forth in Section 1(c) of the Agreement as follows:

Non-Competition Agreement. Employee agrees that during Employee's employment with Company and for two (2) years after such employment shall have terminated for any reason, Employee shall not in any manner or in any capacity, directly or indirectly;
(c) divert or attempt to divert clients or customers (whether or not such persons have done business with Company once or more than once) or accounts of Company.

         Additionally, the Agreement prohibits Sanchez from disclosing DynaFlex's confidential and proprietary information, as set forth in Section 3:

Non-Disclosure of Confidential & Proprietary Information. Employee acknowledges that Confidential & Proprietary Information is important to and greatly affects the success of Company in competitive marketplace. Employee further agrees that while employed by Company and at all times thereafter, regardless of how, when and why such employment ends, Employee shall hold in the strictest confidence, and shall not disclose, duplicate and/or use for Employee or any other person or entity any Confidential & Proprietary Information without the prior written consent of a duly authorized officer of Company, or unless required to do so in order to perform Employee's responsibilities ...

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