in the Court of Appeals 22 February 2017.
by defendant from a preliminary injunction entered 3 October
2016 by Judge John E. Nobles, Jr. in Onslow County Superior
Court Onslow County, No. 16CVS2477.
Crossley McIntosh Collier Hanley & Edes, PLLC, by Norwood
P. Blanchard, III, for plaintiff-appellee.
Spruill, LLP, by Andrew H. Erteschik and Kevin M. Ceglowski,
G. Patterson ("Defendant") appeals from a
preliminary injunction entered on October 3, 2016 by Judge
John E. Nobles, Jr. in Onslow County Superior Court.
Defendant has failed to establish this Court's
jurisdiction because he is unable to show that the
preliminary injunction deprived him of a substantial right.
We therefore dismiss this appeal as interlocutory.
SIA Group, Inc. ("SIA"), is an insurance agency,
which solicits, sells, and services insurance and related
financial products. SIA hired Defendant in December 2002 as a
"sales executive" to sell and service
"property, casualty, and other incidental insurance
coverages" for commercial clients. When Defendant was
hired by SIA, he signed an employment agreement ("the
Agreement"), which included non-solicitation and
non-disclosure covenants. For two years following
Defendant's departure from SIA, the Agreement's
non-solicitation covenant barred Defendant from soliciting or
accepting business for himself in totum from those who were
current or prospective SIA clients for the three years prior
to his departure from SIA, and from "divert[ing] or
attempt[ing] to divert" current or prospective SIA
clients to an SIA competitor. The Agreement's
non-disclosure covenant barred Defendant from
"divulg[ing], disclos[ing], or communicat[ing]" any
confidential information which related to SIA's business,
acted in SIA's detriment, competed with SIA, or attempted
to adversely affect a relationship between SIA and its
current or prospective clients.
2011, Defendant was promoted to a corporate position and a
team leader position at SIA. Through these positions,
Defendant gained "complete access to all . . .
confidential files of . . . SIA Group's customers and
prospects, not just the customers that [Defendant] himself
serviced or solicited." In February 2016, SIA modified
its compensation structure. This upset Defendant because he
believed his performance as one of SIA's top salesmen
should generate more income. On March 24, 2016, without the
knowledge or consent of SIA, Defendant emailed an SIA
customer list of approximately 300 client names, addresses,
phone numbers, and email addresses from his SIA email address
to his personal email address. In May 2016, Defendant
resigned from SIA and took a position with an SIA competitor,
BB&T Insurance Services, Inc.
29, 2016, SIA filed suit against Defendant for breach of
contract alleging Defendant had violated the non-solicitation
and non-disclosure covenants in the Agreement. SIA also filed
a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent Defendant
from further violating the covenants.
October 3, 2016, the trial court issued a preliminary
injunction against Defendant. In its order, the trial court
found that Defendant had "solicit[ed] business [while
working for SIA's competitor] from the clients he
formerly serviced while working for SIA" and concluded
"it [was] appropriate to limit [the preliminary
injunction] to just those specific customers listed in the
'customer list' " that Defendant emailed to
himself in March 2016. Pursuant to the preliminary
injunction, Defendant could not solicit or accept SIA clients
who were on the customer list or disclose "confidential
information of any kind, nature, or description relating to
SIA Group's business, " which included, but was not
limited to, the customer list. It is from this preliminary
injunction that Defendant timely appealed.
argues that this Court must address this interlocutory appeal
because the trial court's order issuing the preliminary
injunction affects a substantial right. He argues that the
preliminary injunction affects his right to earn a living;
that this right is a substantial right; and that the
substantial right doctrine, ...