Appellate Court Affirms Judgment Enforcing Five-Year Covenant Not to Compete

LONGVIEW, Texas – A Texas appellate court has affirmed a trial court’s ruling in an employment contract lawsuit by oil and gas services company Ma-Tex Wire Rope Company, Inc. against a former employee and his new employer.

A panel of judges including Chief Justice Josh R. Morriss III of the Sixth Court of Appeals in Texarkana affirmed the trial court’s decision against Samuel D. Orbison and American Piping Inspection, Inc. (API) over a violation of his non-compete, non-disclosure and non-solicitation agreement.

The lawsuit stems from Mr. Orbison’s employment contract as Ma-Tex’s coordinator of the company’s recertification department. Ma-Tex claimed Mr. Orbison violated his agreement when he resigned in August 2016 to work in the same role for its competitor API.

The company filed a lawsuit against Mr. Orbison and API after both failed to abide by a cease-and-desist letter. According to the lawsuit, Mr. Orbison solicited recertification work from Ma-Tex customers, while sharing the company’s trade secrets and proprietary information with API.

Originally heard in County Court at Law No. 2 in Gregg County, the trial court issued a permanent injunction prohibiting Mr. Orbison from competing with Ma-Tex for five years, and ruled Ma-Tex was entitled to recover damages and attorneys’ fees from Mr. Orbison and API. The case was appealed to the Sixth Court of Appeals, where the court affirmed the trial court’s judgment while finding insufficient evidence to support the court’s ruling granting damages for lost profits and goodwill.

Ward, Smith & Hill attorneys Bruce Smith and Brett Miller represented Ma-Tex in the trial, and Gregory D. Smith and Nolan Smith of Smith Legal PLLC  handled the appeal.

Longview, Texas-based Ward, Smith & Hill, PLLC, has tried more than 350 cases to verdict, earning a national reputation in high-stakes claims involving complex commercial litigation, intellectual property law, oil and gas matters, bad faith insurance claims, and serious personal injury claims. The firm frequently assists lawyers nationwide in complex cases before Texas juries. To learn more about the firm, visit