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Wenger v. Goulette

Superior Court of Maine, Cumberland

November 10, 2016

CHRISTOPHER WENGER, Plaintiff
v.
JOSHUA GOULETTE, Defendant

          ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

          NANCY MILLS JUSTICE SUPERIOR COURT

          Before the court is plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction. Plaintiff seeks to enjoin defendant from allegedly violating the parties' non-compete agreement. For the following reasons, the motion is denied.

          FACTS

         According to the parties' affidavits, on August 7, 2015, the parties entered into an agreement under which defendant agreed to perform painting and construction work for plaintiff. (PL's Am. Aff. ¶ 3; Def.'s Aff. ¶ 9.) Section 8 of the agreement provided that defendant would not perform work for any of plaintiff's customers, other than for the benefit of plaintiff, during the term of the agreement and for ten years after the agreement. (PL's Am. Aff. ¶ 4.)

         Defendant worked for plaintiff for another one or two months after signing the agreement. (PL's Third Aff. ¶ 8; Def.'s Aff. ¶ 11.) After defendant stopped working for plaintiff, defendant worked on his own for Port Properties, one of plaintiff's customers. (PL's Am. Aff. ¶ 21; Def.'s Aff. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff alleges that, as a result of defendant's employment with Port Properties, plaintiff has lost thousands of dollars per month and his goodwill has been damaged. (PL's Am. Aff. ¶¶ 9-10, 19.)

         On August 16, 2016, plaintiff filed a complaint seeking injunctive relief. On September 13, 2016, the court denied plaintiffs request for injunctive relief on the ground that he had not pleaded a cause of action. Plaintiff then filed an amended complaint on September 19, 2016. In the amended complaint, plaintiff alleged: count I, breach of contract (damages); count II, breach of contract (specific performance); and count III, breach of contract (injunctive relief).

         Plaintiff filed an amended motion for a preliminary injunction on September 19, 2016. Defendant filed his opposition to the motion on October 12, 2016. Plaintiff filed a reply on October 20, 2016.

         DISCUSSION

         1. Standard of Review

         A party seeking a preliminary injunction must show that: (1) it will suffer irreparable injury if the injunction is not granted; (2) the injury outweighs any harm that granting the injunction would inflict on the other party; (3) it has a likelihood of success on the merits; and (4) the public interest will not be adversely affected by granting the injunction. Ingraham v. Univ. of Me., 441 A.2d 691, 693 (Me. 1982). "Failure to demonstrate that any one of these criteria are met requires that injunctive relief be denied." Bangor Historic Track, Inc. v. Dep't of Agric, Food & Rural Res., 2003 ME 140. ¶ 10, 837 A.2d 129.

         2. Motion for Preliminary Injunction

         A. Irreparable Harm

         Plaintiff has not shown he will suffer irreparable harm. He states in conclusionary terms only that he has lost good will. (PL's Am. Aff. ¶¶ 10, 19.) Speculative claims of loss of good will do not constitute irreparable injury. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. v. Bishop, 839 F.Supp. 68, 75 (D. Me. 1993). The fact that the parties' agreement provides that defendant acknowledged that plaintiff would be irreparably harmed if the agreement were violated is not dispositive. (PL's Am. Aff. ¶ 17); see Saga Commc'ns of New England, Inc. v. Crocker, 1995 Me. Super. LEXIS 403, at *3-7 (Nov. 9, 1995); Butterfield v. Dep't of Human Servs.. 1991 Me. Super. LEXIS 23, at *4 (Jan. 17, 1991) (evidence in the record to support agreement that plaintiff class would suffer irreparable harm). Plaintiff must show that he will in fact suffer an irreparable harm, which he has failed to do. See In graham, 441 A.2d at 693 (plaintiff bears burden of proving criteria for injunctive relief).

         B. Likelih ...


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