A Texas court has denied an injunction requested by a Houston eye clinic based on an improper noncompete agreement.
LasikPlus of Texas requested a court order to enforce the covenant not to compete against a doctor, formerly employed by the clinic, who planned to open his own clinic nearby. The Fourteenth Court of Appeals rejected the request, finding that the noncompete agreement did not contain language required by statute.
The agreement in question barred the doctor from opening a competing business within 20 miles of LasikPlus and from soliciting its clients for a period of 18 months following the end of his employment. The agreement included terms allowing for reasonable enforcement even if it was found to be unreasonable in scope, and it expressly provided for an injunction if the agreement was violated.
However, the agreement did not include language required by the Texas Covenants Not to Compete Act, which provides that covenants relating to the practice of medicine must include a reasonable buyout provision. The court found that because the agreement in question contained no such provision, it was unenforceable as a matter of law.
Among other arguments, LasikPlus said that there was a mutual mistake with regard to the drafting of the agreement. However, the court noted that the doctor had submitted an uncontroverted affidavit stating that he had raised the possibility of a buyout, and that the suggestion was rejected.