Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc. v. Hennkens, No. 02-1981.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtLoken
Citation301 F.3d 931
PartiesSAFETY-KLEEN SYSTEMS, INC., Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Kevin HENNKENS, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date29 August 2002
Docket NumberNo. 02-1981.
301 F.3d 931
SAFETY-KLEEN SYSTEMS, INC., Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Kevin HENNKENS, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 02-1981.
United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.
Submitted: June 13, 2002.
Filed: August 29, 2002.

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COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

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Timothy A. Duffy, argued, Chicago, IL (Gerard K. Rodriguez, on the brief), for appellant.

William H. Foster, argued, Greenville, SC (Steven M. Wynkoop and Andrew D. Dillon, on the brief), for appellee.

Before WOLLMAN, RICHARD S. ARNOLD, and LOKEN, Circuit Judges.

LOKEN, Circuit Judge.


After Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc. fired Kevin Hennkens, a customer service representative, he began soliciting customers in his former trade area for a Safety-Kleen competitor. Safety-Kleen filed this diversity action, seeking to enforce a one-year restrictive covenant in Hennkens's employment agreement with Safety-Kleen. After an evidentiary hearing, the district court1 granted Safety-Kleen's motion for a preliminary injunction. Hennkens appeals, arguing that Safety-Kleen failed to prove irreparable injury and the likelihood of success on the merits, and that the injunction is overly broad. We affirm.

I. Background.

Safety-Kleen is a national waste management company that provides products such as solvents and parts cleaners and waste collection and disposal services to its industrial and commercial customers. For manufacturing customers in particular, these products and services are customized to fit each customer's particular needs. Safety-Kleen's sales and service representatives are its primary customer contacts. The Safety-Kleen representatives develop a personal relationship with customers and learn each customer's specific waste management needs. These relationships are crucial to Safety-Kleen because seventy percent of its new business comes from existing customers.

On January 3, 2000, Hennkens began work as a Vacuum Sales and Service Representative at Safety-Kleen's branch in Caseyville, Illinois. Hennkens signed an Employment Agreement that included the following provisions:

1. Customer Relationships: Employee acknowledges that the Company's business is largely a service business which is dependent entirely upon the satisfaction existing between the customer and the Company.... The Employee recognizes that the only normal contact between the individual customer and Safety-Kleen is the Employee himself, and that the Employee represents Safety-Kleen and its associated goodwill to such customers.

* * * * * *

7. Competitive Activities After Termination of Employment: Employee

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agrees that for a period of one (1) year from the date on which his employment terminates, for whatever reason, he will not solicit or divert, or attempt to solicit or divert any of the customers, employees or patronage of the Company within the geographic area which is set forth in Addendum A ... and he will not for himself or on behalf of any other person, firm or corporation engage directly or indirectly in any activity competitive with the business carried on by the Company within the Geographic Area.

The Geographic Area was defined as the areas served by Safety-Kleen's branches in Caseyville and in St. Charles, Missouri.

While working at the Caseyville branch, Hennkens served a trade area consisting of eight Illinois counties and the City of St. Louis. His duties included driving a tanker truck to collect customer wastes and soliciting new nonhazardous waste disposal business. In March of 2000, Hennkens transferred to the St. Charles branch, where he became an Industrial Sales and Service Representative. In this position, he solicited sales and provided waste disposal and parts cleaning services to customers engaged in manufacturing. His primary territory consisted of four Missouri counties, including part of St. Louis county but not the City of St. Louis.

Safety-Kleen reorganized the St. Charles branch in August of 2001, separating the sales and service responsibilities. Hennkens was offered a position as "Customer Service Representative," responsible for providing services to the same customers in the same trade area. He accepted the position and signed a new Non-Competition and Non-Disclosure Agreement on August 15, 2001. This Agreement contained a more elaborate non-compete provision than the above-quoted portions of the first agreement, but for our purposes the restrictions were the same except Hennkens was prohibited for one year from working for a competitor "within any county in any state in which Employee provides services for the Company during his employment."

Safety-Kleen fired Hennkens for dishonesty in responding to a customer complaint the day after he signed the second non-compete agreement. Following his dismissal, he went to work for Heritage-Crystal Clean ("Crystal Clean"), a major competitor of Safety-Kleen. In a pre-hearing affidavit, Hennkens admitted that the two companies sell "essentially identical" products and services; that he calls on customers for Crystal Clean in the areas served by Safety-Kleen's St. Charles and Caseyville branches, including some customers he called on while employed by Safety-Kleen; and that he has succeeded in obtaining some business from at least three former Safety-Kleen customers. Testifying at the evidentiary hearing, Hennkens admitted sending Crystal Clean sales literature to customers with whom he had contact while at Safety-Kleen and acknowledged that the confidential sales and customer information he acquired while working at Safety-Kleen "would give a person a competitive advantage as a salesperson in the same industry." (However, there is no evidence that Hennkens misappropriated any customer lists, price lists, or other confidential Safety-Kleen documents when he left.)

Safety-Kleen discovered that Hennkens was working for a competitor in October 2001 and filed this action on March 19, 2002. The district court promptly held a...

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26 practice notes
  • United States v. Lindgren, No. CR11–4076–MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • October 3, 2011
    ...the suspect was arrested. Griffin, 922 F.2d at 1349. “Lack of arrest is a ‘very important’ factor weighing against custody.” Galceran, 301 F.3d at 931. Unlike the defendant in Griffin, Lindgren was not placed under arrest at any point during, or at the conclusion of, either interview. Rathe......
  • Easy Returns Worldwide, Inc v. U.S., No. 4:03 CV 555HEA.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
    • May 19, 2003
    ...Dataphase Sys., Inc. v. C.L. Sys., Inc., 640 F.2d 109, 112-14 (8th Cir.1981))(en banc). See also, Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc. v. Hennkens 301 F.3d 931, 935 (8th Cir.2002). The Court considers all of the factors and decides whether "on balance, they weigh in towards granting the injuncti......
  • Progressive Techs., Inc. v. Chaffin Holdings, Inc., 20-1474
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • May 2, 2022
    ...for clearly erroneous factual determinations, an error of law, or an abuse of that discretion." Safety-Kleen Sys., Inc. v. Hennkens, 301 F.3d 931, 935 (8th Cir. 2002) (citation omitted). "The abuse-of-discretion standard means the court has a range of choice, and that its decision......
  • US v. BETONE, No. CR. 09-30011-RAL.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • January 27, 2010
    ...conclusion of the interview. The lack of a defendant's arrest is a "very important factor weighing against custody." Galceran, 301 F.3d at 931. In the circumstances where the defendant was advised that he was free to leave and would not be arrested after the questioning, the pendu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
26 cases
  • United States v. Lindgren, No. CR11–4076–MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • October 3, 2011
    ...the suspect was arrested. Griffin, 922 F.2d at 1349. “Lack of arrest is a ‘very important’ factor weighing against custody.” Galceran, 301 F.3d at 931. Unlike the defendant in Griffin, Lindgren was not placed under arrest at any point during, or at the conclusion of, either interview. Rathe......
  • Easy Returns Worldwide, Inc v. U.S., No. 4:03 CV 555HEA.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
    • May 19, 2003
    ...Dataphase Sys., Inc. v. C.L. Sys., Inc., 640 F.2d 109, 112-14 (8th Cir.1981))(en banc). See also, Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc. v. Hennkens 301 F.3d 931, 935 (8th Cir.2002). The Court considers all of the factors and decides whether "on balance, they weigh in towards granting the injuncti......
  • Progressive Techs., Inc. v. Chaffin Holdings, Inc., 20-1474
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • May 2, 2022
    ...for clearly erroneous factual determinations, an error of law, or an abuse of that discretion." Safety-Kleen Sys., Inc. v. Hennkens, 301 F.3d 931, 935 (8th Cir. 2002) (citation omitted). "The abuse-of-discretion standard means the court has a range of choice, and that its decision......
  • US v. BETONE, No. CR. 09-30011-RAL.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • January 27, 2010
    ...conclusion of the interview. The lack of a defendant's arrest is a "very important factor weighing against custody." Galceran, 301 F.3d at 931. In the circumstances where the defendant was advised that he was free to leave and would not be arrested after the questioning, the pendu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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