Becker v. Bailey, 151

CourtCourt of Appeals of Maryland
Citation299 A.2d 835,268 Md. 93
Docket NumberNo. 151,151
PartiesCharles E. BECKER v. John R. BAILEY.
Decision Date08 February 1973

Page 93

268 Md. 93
299 A.2d 835
Charles E. BECKER
No. 151.
Court of Appeals of Maryland.
Feb. 8, 1973.

Page 94

[299 A.2d 836] Bill L. Yoho, Lanham (Robert S. Hoyert, Robert A. Diemer, Roy W. Hooten, Joseph F. McBride, Kenneth A. Lechter, C. Frederick Fiege and Hoyert, Diemer, Yoho, Hooten & McBride, L. E. Funk, Lanham, on the brief), for appellant.

Victor L. Crawford, Rockville (Crawford & Goldberg, Rockville, on the brief), for appellee.


DIGGES, Judge.

The appellant, Charles E. Becker, filed his bill of complaint in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County against the appellee, John R. Bailey, seeking to enjoin the appellee from competing against Becker following the termination of his employment. In addition to the injunction, monetary damages were requested. The bill alleged that Bailey, who was once employed by appellant, was in violation of the employer-employee restrictive covenant contained in his employment contract. That contractual provision reads:

'in the event this agreement is terminated, either voluntarily, involuntarily or by mutual consent, that (Bailey) will not [299 A.2d 837] engage in a similar or competitive business for himself or for any competitor or in any capacity for any competitor, in the District of Columbia, Prince George's County, Anne Arundel County, and Montgomery County for a period of two (2) years from the date this Agreement is terminated in any manner.'

After a full hearing, Judge James F. Couch issued an order in which he denied the requested relief. From that order, this appeal followed.

The facts disclose that Becker is the sole proprietor of the Becker Title Service which for thirty-four years has provided a tag and title service to automobile dealers located in Washington, D. C. and Anne Arundel,

Page 95

Prince George's and Montgomery Counties of Maryland. This service consists of visiting various car dealers, picking up their customers' applications for tags and title, taking the papers to the Department of Motor Vehicles for processing, and then delivering the tags and title to the dealers who in turn forward them to their customers. The importance of this service, which takes about four days, is that it is much swifter than mailing and the saving of time is a significant factor since the temporary tags supplied to the purchaser by the dealer have a short life span. In May 1963 Becker hired Bailey to work for him as a tag and title courier. This employment continued uninterruptedly until February 4, 1972 when Becker terminated it, giving as a reason the fact that he had learned that appellee was 'moonlighting' with some customers of the Becker Title Service.

Shortly after leaving, Bailey set up his own tag and title company, operating out of his home in Waldorf, Charles County, Maryland. He, at the time of trial, serviced about eighteen dealer accounts-fifteen of these are customers that never used the Becker service, but three are former clients of the appellant. However, there is no evidence that Bailey solicited the business of these former customers of Becker; and, in fact, the testimony indicates just the opposite. One customer had left Becker's service a long time before Bailey was fired and had tried another tag and title company before going to Bailey; the other two were dissatisfied with the length of time it took Becker to perform his service and one contacted Bailey while he was still employed by appellant, but the other did not contact him until after it learned he was no longer with appellant. We note, as did the trial judge, that the information that Bailey had left Becker's was not supplied by appellee; but rather, his employer notified his customers of this fact eight hours before he terminted Bailey's employment. Further testimony adduced at trial shows that appellee is forty-nine years old, in a poor financial condition and is not trained

Page 96

for any other type of work except possibly, to a limited degree, farming. Faced with this factual beckground the chancellor concluded that:

'It seems to the Court, on the evidence before it, that this case falls within the class or type of cases holding that there is no justification for restraint where a former employee does no more than become an efficient competitor of his former employer, and does not do so by exploiting his personal contacts with customers or clients of his former employer.

Further, the Court feels that to find the restriction justified would in fact work an undue hardship on (Bailey).

Accordingly, the Court will deny the injunctive relief prayed.

As far as damages are concerned, this issue is moot in view of the Court's ruling above and secondly they were not proved in fact.'

The main issue presented to this Court is whether, under the facts of this case, the non-competition covenant contained in the contract of employment is enforceable against the appellee. We agree with the chancellor that it is not. The [299 A.2d 838] general rule in Maryland is that if a restrictive covenant in an employment contract is supported by adequate consideration and is ancillary to the employment contract, an employee's agreement not to compete with his employer upon leaving the employment will be upheld 'if the restraint is confined within limits which are no wider as to area and duration than are reasonably necessary for the protection of the business of the employer and do not impose undue...

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51 cases
  • Holloway v. Faw, Casson & Co., 228
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • September 1, 1988
    ...of each case must be examined." Millward v. Gerstung Int'l Sports, 268 Md. 483, 488, 302 A.2d 14 (1973) (citing Becker v. Bailey, 268 Md. 93, 299 A.2d 835 (1973)). In making such an examination some of the factors which the court is to consider whether the restriction is reasonable in area ......
  • Application Group, Inc. v. Hunter Group, Inc., A071528
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • February 23, 1998
    ...of clients, or solicitation of customers. (Fowler v. Printers II Page 86 (1991) 89 Md.App. 448, 598 A.2d 794, 799; Becker v. Bailey (1973) 268 Md. 93, 299 A.2d 835; Holloway v. Faw, Casson & Co., supra, 572 A.2d at p. 515.) However, there is nothing in the record of this case to support a f......
  • Holloway v. Faw, Casson & Co., 44
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • April 18, 1990
    ...Md. at 123-24, 225 A.2d at 291 (quoting MacIntosh v. Brunswick Corp., 241 Md. at 31, 215 A.2d at 225 (1965)); see also Becker v. Bailey, 268 Md. 93, 96, 299 A.2d 835, 838 (1973); Gill v. Computer Equip. Corp., 266 Md. Page 335 170, 180, 292 A.2d 54, 59 (1972); Tuttle v. Riggs-Warfield-Rolos......
  • Fowler v. Printers II, Inc., 64
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • September 1, 1991
    ...on this point, appellants rely upon Budget Rent A Car of Washington, Inc. v. Raab, 268 Md. 478, 302 A.2d 11 (1973) and Becker v. Bailey, 268 Md. 93, 299 A.2d 835 (1973). Neither case aids their cause. It is true that in both the court refused to enforce restrictive covenants; however, in bo......
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