Court Enforces Non-Compete Agreement to Protect Employer’s Business Interests

by Joseph C. Maya on Feb. 21, 2024

Employment 

Summary: Webster Bank v. Ludwin, 2011 Conn. Super. LEXIS 127

Webster Bank is regional commercial bank with headquarters in Waterbury, Connecticut that provides financial services to customers in Connecticut, New York Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.  The company employed Mr. Michael Ludwin as a dual employee with UVEST Financial Services from January 2007 until the company terminated his employment in June 2010.  Mr. Ludwin signed a new employment agreement with Webster when he became a dual employee wherein the agreement contained a non-compete covenant.

The agreement, executed on February 7, 2009, prohibited Mr. Ludwin, for a period of one year following termination, from engaging in competing business activities within twenty-five miles of Webster Bank’s “base of operation”.  Additionally, he was obligated to refrain from soliciting Webster’s customers and to “treat as confidential the names and addresses of customers” (non-disclosure clause).

Non-Compete Breach

Webster terminated Mr. Ludwin in June 2010 and on July 9, 2010 he began to work for Harvest Capital, LLC, a Wethersfield, CT based financial consulting firm.  Webster’s counsel sent Mr. Ludwin a letter reminding him of his obligations under the non-compete agreement contained in his employment contract and demanded that he observe the enumerated restrictions.  The bank sued Mr. Ludwin in Connecticut state court for violation of the covenant not to compete when Mr. Ludwin failed to curtail his activities and requested that the court issue an injunction preventing any further breaches of the agreement.

The court granted Webster’s request and ordered that Mr. Ludwin “cease and desist from competing with the plaintiffs within a twenty-five mile radius of Hamden and Milford, Connecticut for a period to end on June 30, 2011” and further ordered him to return any and all customer lists that he removed from Webster’s premises.

The Court’s Decision

The court held that injunctive relief was necessary if it was to maintain the status quo between the parties.  Webster presented sufficient evidence to demonstrate that it would experience irreparable harm from Mr. Ludwin’s actions in the absence of an injunction.  Its customer lists and relationships are valuable business interests that are integral to the success of the company and as such the court identified that Webster had a legitimate business interest that was afforded protection under Connecticut law.  Furthermore, the court concluded that the agreement had reasonable provisions that did not excessively favor one party over the other or unnecessarily stifle their future business activities.


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