Firm Defeats Non-Compete Injunction in PA Tech Staffing Dispute

Pollard PLLC has defeated another request for a preliminary injunction in a non-compete case, this time in a tech staffing dispute in Bucks County, PA.  The case involves the complex relationship between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, third party companies than manage Pennsylvania’s IT staffing needs and recruiting companies that vie to fill those open positions.

The facts in brief:  Naga Goli is a software engineer.  In August 2013, Goli registered with a company called Computer Aid, Inc. as a potential supplier.  At the time, CAI was the Managed Service Provider for the Pennsylvania IT Staff Augmentation Services Contract.  CAI was the single point of contact between Pennsylvania and suppliers for all of the state’s IT staffing needs – including Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation (“PennDot”). CAI engaged with hundreds of suppliers and prospective suppliers. Any prospective supplier could register with CAI as a supplier through its website.

In December 2014, Goli entered into a Consulting Agreement with a company called Vinculum to perform IT consulting work for CAI/PennDot. The Agreement indicates that Goli and his company Goli Technologies would not do business with Vinculum’s “client” for one year following termination of the Agreement. The Agreement defines the Vinculum’s “client” as CAI/PennDot.

In late 2016, it was announced that a new company would be replacing CAI as the lead tech staffing entity for Pennsylvania.  The new company, OST, would take over beginning January 1, 2016.  After this transition, Goli decided to contract directly with OST/PennDot.

Vinculum sued Goli and sought a preliminary injunction barring Goli from contracting directly with OST/PennDot.  In defending the case, the firm argued that the restrictive covenants at issue were unenforceable for a number of reasons.   First, there was no confidential information or trade secrets at issue.  Second, the relationships between firms like Vinculum and CAI/OST/PennDot were not protectable.  Any company could register as a potential supplier.  The registration process was open and public.  Any company could vie for the opportunity to do business with the state and the state did not maintain any exclusive or special relationships.  Finally, the firm argued that if the restrictions were enforceable, the plain language of the Consulting Agreement controlled:  That Agreement only prohibited Goli from doing business with “CAI/PennDot”, not “OST/PennDot”.  

After a lengthy hearing in February and extensive post-hearing briefing, the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas has denied Vinculum’s request for a preliminary injunction.

Pollard PLLC is a litigation boutique focused on competition law. The firm’s principal Jonathan Pollard began his career at Boies, Schiller & Flexner and has extensive experience litigating non-compete, trade secret and antitrust cases. His office can be reached at 954-332-2380.