ST. LOUIS - An appeals court has reversed and remanded a finding for a commercial tractor-trailer mechanical-service provider in a lawsuit brought by a former mechanic.
In a decision issued April 3, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District found that summary judgment granted to AAA Trailer Services Inc. was improper in a complaint brought by Jess Jobe.
Jobe sued in St. Louis County Circuit Court after the company enforced a noncompete agreement, which he claims got him fired from a new job.
According to the ruling, he had signed the agreement with AAA Trailer Services, for which he was paid an extra $1 per hour, in November 2015, but then left his job in June 2016 to work for another business.
Within days of taking a new job, he received a letter from AAA Trailer Services' lawyer saying he was in violation of his agreement, and as a result of the letter and the company's actions, Jobe claims he was fired from his new employer.
Jobe's lawsuit sought a declaration that the noncompete agreement was unenforceable and damages for tortious interference with a business expectancy. The parties later filed cross-motions for summary judgment
St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge Judy Draper ruled the agreement was enforceable and that Jobe failed to show AAA Trailer Services interfered with his relationship with his new employer.
The appeals court found there were "genuine issues of material fact" that would preclude summary judgment.
"Additionally, there is insufficient evidence in the record to establish AAA met its burden that Jobe had sufficient customer contacts (evidence as to quality, frequency, or duration) to enforce the Non-Compete and to justify a restriction on Jobe as a truck mechanic," the ruling states.
The court declined to review the merits of whether AAA Trailer Services had tortiously interfered with Jobe's future employment as "this issue is dependent on the resolution on remand of whether the Non-Compete Jobe signed was enforceable."