Riedman Corp. v. Jarosh

Decision Date21 April 1986
Docket NumberNo. 0733,0733
Citation345 S.E.2d 732,289 S.C. 191
PartiesRIEDMAN CORPORATION, Appellant, v. Iris T. JAROSH, Respondent. . Heard
CourtSouth Carolina Court of Appeals

G. Ray Harris, Spartanburg, for appellant.

Harvey G. Sanders, Jr., of Leatherwood, Walker, Todd & Mann, Greenville, for respondent.

CURETON, Judge:

Appellant Riedman Corporation brought an action for breach of a covenant not to compete. The trial judge sustained respondent Iris T. Jarosh's demurrer on the ground that no consideration supported the covenant. Riedman Corporation appeals. We reverse.

On October 1, 1979, Jarosh entered into a Solicitor's Agreement with Neuberger &amp Company, subsequently purchased by Riedman Corporation. 1 The agreement listed Jarosh's duties as an insurance agent and stated that Neuberger would pay her "a salary and commission as agreed." The agreement further provided:

for a period of two (2) years from the date of the termination of this agreement, she, the Solicitor, will not on his [sic] own association with any other person, firm, or corporation or in any manner solicit renewals of insurance of Neuburger & Company in a one hundred mile radius of Greenville, South Carolina, being the area in which she is to perform her duties os [sic] Solicitor.

* * *

* * *

This agreement supersedes all previous agreements, whether oral or written, between [Jarosh] and [Neuberger] and may be terminated by either party at any time upon written notice to the other.

The issue on appeal is whether the trial judge erred in sustaining Jarosh's demurrer on the ground of lack of consideration. When a party demurs to another party's pleadings, we must accept the allegations as true and give them a liberal construction. 2 Oxman v. Sherman, 239 S.C. 218, 226, 122 S.E.2d 559, 562-63 (1961); Christiansen v. Campbell, 285 S.C. 164, 328 S.E.2d 351 (Ct.App.1985). A demurrer to a complaint cannot be sustained if facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action can be fairly gathered from the complaint, however uncertain, defective, or imperfect the allegations of the complaint may be. Chilton v. City of Columbia, 247 S.C. 407, 408, 147 S.E.2d 642, 643 (1966).

Riedman Corporation argues that the negative covenant is enforceable because it is supported by valuable consideration described as a "reasonable expectation of ... benefits." We agree.

In the past, covenants not to compete were viewed as restraints on trade and were held to be void and against public policy. "The modern rule is that an anticompetitive covenant supported by consideration and ancillary to a lawful contract is enforceable if reasonable and consistent with the public interest." 54 Am.Jur.2d Monopolies Section 511 at p. 959 (1971). See Restatement (Second) of Contracts Section 187 (1981) ("A promise to refrain from competition that imposes a restraint that is not ancillary to an otherwise valid transaction or relationship is unreasonably in restraint of trade."). See also Annot., 62 A.L.R. 1014, 1020-21 (1975) (covenant not to compete is enforceable "if supported by consideration, ancillary to a lawful contract, and reasonable and consistent with the public interest ...").

We have been unable to locate a South Carolina decision concerning the question of whether an at-will employment contract provides sufficient consideration for a covenant not to compete. While several courts have held that such a contract cannot support an anticompetitive covenant [ see Byram v. Vaughn, 68 F.Supp. 981 (D.D.C.1946) ], numerous courts have enforced protective covenants where the consideration is based simply upon the at-will employment itself. Licocci v. Cardinal Associates, Inc., 445 N.E.2d 556 (Ind.1983); Bailey v. King, 240 Ark. 245, 398 S.W.2d 906 (1966); National Linen Service Corp. v. Clover, 179 Ga. 136, 175 S.E. 460 (1934); Tolman Laundry v. Walker, 171 Md. 7, 187 A. 836 (1936); Sherman v. Pfefferkorn, 241 Mass. 468, 135 N.E. 568 (1922). Moreover, several other courts have held that where the parties to a contract of employment have operated under the agreement for some period of time, the executed performance by the promisee of an ancillary agreement not to compete, supplies sufficient consideration for the agreement not to compete. See Wright & Seaton, Inc. v. Prescott, 420...

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5 cases
  • DEFENDER INDUS. v. NW MUT. LIFE INS.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of South Carolina
    • 15 Diciembre 1989
    ...of contracts); Ellis v. Smith Grading and Paving, Inc., 294 S.C. 470, 366 S.E.2d 12 (App.1988) (restitution); Riedman Corp. v. Jarosh, 289 S.C. 191, 345 S.E.2d 732 (App.1986) (covenant not to compete); King v. Oxford, 282 S.C. 307, 318 S.E.2d 125 (App.1984) (requirement of certainty in cont......
  • Covenant Equipment Corp. v. Forklift Pro, Inc.
    • United States
    • Superior Court of North Carolina
    • 1 Mayo 2008
    ...it does not appear that South Carolina has directly ruled on the assignability of noncompetition agreements.10[] In Riedman Corp. v. Jarosh, 345 S.E.2d 732 (S.C. App. 1986), aff'd 349 S.E.2d 404 (S.C. 1986), the South Carolina Court of Appeals did not reach the issue of whether the new empl......
  • Brown v. Brown
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • 30 Marzo 2011
    ... ... See Eaddy v. SmurfitStone Container Corp., 355 S.C. 154, 164, 584 S.E.2d 390, 396 (Ct.App.2003) ([S]hort, conclusory statements made without ... ...
  • Pearl Ins. Grp., LLC v. David J. Baker & Igo Ins. Agency, Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of South Carolina
    • 29 Agosto 2018
    ...it upon the commencement of hisemployment with Plaintiff and was compensated yearly (ECF No. 1-1 at 4-5). See Reidman Corp. v. Jarosh, 345 S.E.2d 732, 733-34 (S.C. Ct. App. 1986) (holding that there was valuable consideration in an agreement to not compete). Next, the non-solicitation provi......
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