Occusafe, Inc. v. EG&G Rocky Flats, Inc., No. 93-1469

CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit
Writing for the CourtBefore TACHA, McWILLIAMS, Circuit Judges, and BURRAGE; TACHA
Citation54 F.3d 618
Docket NumberNo. 93-1469
Decision Date19 April 1995
PartiesOCCUSAFE, INC., an Illinois Corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. EG&G ROCKY FLATS, INC., a Colorado Corporation, Defendant-Appellee.

Page 618

54 F.3d 618
OCCUSAFE, INC., an Illinois Corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
EG&G ROCKY FLATS, INC., a Colorado Corporation, Defendant-Appellee.
No. 93-1469.
United States Court of Appeals,
Tenth Circuit.
April 19, 1995.

Page 620

Thomas J. Burke, Jr., Jones & Keller, P.C., Denver, CO, for plaintiff-appellant.

John E. Bolmer, II, Hall & Evans, P.C., Denver, CO, for defendant-appellee.

Before TACHA, McWILLIAMS, Circuit Judges, and BURRAGE, District Judge *.

TACHA, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff Occusafe, Inc., an Illinois corporation, brought suit against defendant EG&G Rocky Flats, Inc. (EG&G), a Colorado corporation, in federal district court pursuant to the court's diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1332. Plaintiff asserted three causes of action: (1) tortious interference with contractual relations; (2) tortious interference with prospective business advantage; and (3) breach of an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The district court granted defendant summary judgment on all three claims, and plaintiff now appeals. We exercise jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1291, reversing in part and affirming in part.

I

Plaintiff provides industrial hygiene consulting services on a contract basis. In the course of its business, it regularly employs industrial hygienists. Because of the relative scarcity of industrial hygienists, plaintiff requires its hygienists to agree, as part of their employment contracts, not to work for an Occusafe customer for at least six months

Page 621

after leaving Occusafe (the "non-compete agreements").

Defendant EG&G operates the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons production facility in Rocky Flats, Colorado, under a contract with the United States Department of Energy. Since December 1990, when defendant assumed the contractual obligations of its predecessor, Rockwell International, defendant has subcontracted with plaintiff for industrial hygiene services.

During the course of the parties' contractual relationship, seven of plaintiff's industrial hygienists have left their employment with Occusafe to accept jobs with defendant. All seven began working for defendant before the six-month period required by the non-compete agreements had elapsed. Plaintiff contends that defendant was fully aware of the non-compete agreements when it hired the industrial hygienists.

After efforts to resolve their differences through negotiation failed, plaintiff filed a complaint in federal district court in November 1990. Plaintiff alleged that defendant had tortiously interfered with plaintiff's contractual relations with its employees, tortiously interfered with plaintiff's prospective economic advantage, and breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing between the parties. Defendant moved for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56.

The district court held that, as a matter of Colorado law, the non-compete agreements between plaintiff and its industrial hygienists were void. As a result, plaintiff's claims of tortious interference with contractual relations and breach of a covenant of good faith and fair dealing failed because both depended on the validity of the non-compete agreements. The court also concluded that plaintiff had no claim of tortious interference with prospective economic advantage because plaintiff and defendant were competitors. The district court therefore granted defendant summary judgment. Plaintiff now appeals.

II

We review a district court's grant of summary judgment de novo and apply the same legal standard used by the district court. Wood v. Eli Lilly & Co., 38 F.3d 510, 512 (10th Cir.1994). Under Rule 56(c), summary judgment is appropriate only if the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the party resisting the motion, reveals no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 1608, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970). A fact is "material" if it "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law," and a "genuine" issue exists if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

Moreover, as a federal court sitting in diversity jurisdiction, "our role is to ascertain and apply the proper state law, here that of [Colorado], with the goal of insuring that the result obtained is the one that would have been reached in the state courts." Allen v. Minnstar, Inc., 8 F.3d 1470, 1476 (10th Cir.1993). We review de novo the district court's construction of Colorado law, affording no deference to its conclusions. Salve Regina College v. Russell, 499 U.S. 225, 231, 111 S.Ct. 1217, 1220-21, 113 L.Ed.2d 190 (1991). With this in mind, we turn to the merits of plaintiff's claims.

III

A.

Plaintiff first alleges that, by hiring away its industrial hygienists, defendant tortiously interfered with plaintiff's contractual relations with its employees. Plaintiff contends that defendant knowingly induced the seven industrial hygienists to breach their employment contracts with plaintiff. This claim turns on the validity of the non-compete agreements, for if a contract is void under Colorado law, "there can be no liability for inducing its breach." Dolton v. Capitol Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 642 P.2d 21, 23 (Colo.Ct.App.1981); Colorado Accounting Machs., Inc. v. Mergenthaler, 44 Colo.App. 155, 609 P.2d 1125, 1127 (1980); see also

Page 622

Restatement (Second) of Torts Sec. 766 cmt. f (1979) [hereinafter Restatement of Torts ] ("[I]f for any reason [the particular agreement] is entirely void, there is no liability for causing its breach.").

Colo.Rev.Stat. Sec. 8-2-113(2) broadly states that "[a]ny covenant not to compete which restricts the right of any person to receive compensation for performance of skilled or unskilled labor for any employer shall be void." It also provides, however, that "subsection (2) shall not apply to: ... (d) Executive and management personnel and officers and employees who constitute professional staff to executive and management personnel." Id. Sec. 8-2-113(2)(d). Plaintiff contends that the non-compete agreements were valid because industrial hygienists are "employees who constitute professional staff to executive and management personnel" for purposes of section 8-2-113(2)(d). The district court disagreed, holding that, as a matter of law,...

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  • Cimarron Alliance v. City of Oklahoma City, Ok, No. CIV-01-1827-C.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. Western District of Oklahoma
    • September 13, 2002
    ...the Court as to which facts are material and for which there must be a genuine dispute. Occusafe, Inc. v. EG&G Rocky Flats, Inc., 54 F.3d 618 (10th Cir.1995). On summary judgment, the Court must view the evidence of record in a light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all r......
  • Nobody in Part. Presents v. Clear Channel Communs., No. CIV.A. 01 N 1523 BNB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Colorado
    • April 2, 2004
    ...insuring that the result obtained is the one that would have been obtained in state court. Occusafe, Inc. v. EG&G Rocky Flats, Inc., 54 F.3d 618, 621 (10th Cir.1995) (citing Allen v. Minnstar, Inc., 8 F.3d 1470, 1476 [10th Cir.1993]). To determine which state's substantive law to apply,......
  • Classic Communications v. Rural Telephone Serv., Civil Action No. 96-2166-DES.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • January 30, 1997
    ...to conduct such as `physical violence, fraud, civil suits, and criminal prosecutions.'" Occusafe, Inc. v. EG&G Rocky Flats, Inc., 54 F.3d 618, 623 (10th Cir.1995) (interpreting Colorado law and citing Restatement (Second) of Torts § 768 cmt. e). Moreover, in DP-Tek, the Tenth Circu......
  • Bryce v. Episcopal Church in Diocese of Colorado, No. CIV. A. 00-WY-1216-C.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Colorado
    • November 15, 2000
    ...is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'" Occusafe, Inc. v. EG&G Rocky Flats, Inc., 54 F.3d 618, 621 (10th Cir.1995) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 A. Plaintiff Bryce's Title VII Cla......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
35 cases
  • Cimarron Alliance v. City of Oklahoma City, Ok, No. CIV-01-1827-C.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. Western District of Oklahoma
    • September 13, 2002
    ...the Court as to which facts are material and for which there must be a genuine dispute. Occusafe, Inc. v. EG&G Rocky Flats, Inc., 54 F.3d 618 (10th Cir.1995). On summary judgment, the Court must view the evidence of record in a light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all r......
  • Nobody in Part. Presents v. Clear Channel Communs., No. CIV.A. 01 N 1523 BNB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Colorado
    • April 2, 2004
    ...insuring that the result obtained is the one that would have been obtained in state court. Occusafe, Inc. v. EG&G Rocky Flats, Inc., 54 F.3d 618, 621 (10th Cir.1995) (citing Allen v. Minnstar, Inc., 8 F.3d 1470, 1476 [10th Cir.1993]). To determine which state's substantive law to apply,......
  • Classic Communications v. Rural Telephone Serv., Civil Action No. 96-2166-DES.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • January 30, 1997
    ...to conduct such as `physical violence, fraud, civil suits, and criminal prosecutions.'" Occusafe, Inc. v. EG&G Rocky Flats, Inc., 54 F.3d 618, 623 (10th Cir.1995) (interpreting Colorado law and citing Restatement (Second) of Torts § 768 cmt. e). Moreover, in DP-Tek, the Tenth Circu......
  • Bryce v. Episcopal Church in Diocese of Colorado, No. CIV. A. 00-WY-1216-C.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Colorado
    • November 15, 2000
    ...is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'" Occusafe, Inc. v. EG&G Rocky Flats, Inc., 54 F.3d 618, 621 (10th Cir.1995) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 A. Plaintiff Bryce's Title VII Cla......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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