Articles Tagged with covenants not to compete

Picture of a stethoscopeWe recently posted an article discussing Senate Bill 417, which revised Indiana’s statute on noncompete agreements between physicians and their employers, Indiana Code 25-22.5-5.5. A physician in northern Indiana may be the first to attempt to use the statute.  The case is Lankford v. Lutheran Medical Group, filed in Allen County Commercial Court.

Dr. David Lankford was employed by Lutheran Medical Group, LLC to work at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne as a pediatric intensivist treating patients in its pediatric intensive care unit. In addition to pediatric intensivists, Lutheran employed neonatologists to treat patients in the neonatal intensive care unit and pediatric hospitalists to treat patients elsewhere in the hospital.

According to Dr. Lankford’s complaint, in October 2022, Lutheran eliminated the jobs of the hospitalists and required the intensivists to assume their responsibilities, in addition to their previous responsibilities in the pediatric intensive care unit. In December, Dr. Lankford notified Lutheran that he believed the increase in his responsibilities constituted a breach of his employment contract. He resigned in January 2023.

Update:  Senate Bill 7 dealing with physician noncompete agreements was signed into law by the governor but in a form that differs significantly from the originally introduced version described in this article.  Click here for a discussion of the final version of Senate Bill 7 that goes into effect on July 1, 2023.

Covenants not to compete, or noncompete agreements, between employers and employees prohibit an employee from competing with the employer after the employment relationship ends. Noncompete agreements are common in some industries or professions, particularly those that rely heavily on proprietary information or ongoing relationships with clients or customers.

Noncompete agreements are are part of a larger category of contracts, those that restrain the freedom of trade in one way or another. For covenants not to compete, the restraint is the restriction of a person’s right to make a living. If the restrictions are too severe, they can run afoul of public policy or federal or state antitrust statutes, in which case they are unenforceable.

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