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Florida Physician’s Non-Compete Agreement With Hospital Was About 10 Miles Too Long

Posted by Eric Parzianello on May 5, 2011

How important are 10 extra miles in a non-compete clause? A recently filed case in Lee County, Florida, shows that they can be critically important.

Dr. Eric Eskioglu filed a complaint which alleges that the non-compete clause in his 2006 employment contract with Lee Memorial Hospital is not enforceable. The clause prohibits the doctor from engaging in a neurosurgical practice within a 50-mile radius of Lee Memorial Hospital. Specifically, the clause in his employment contract states:

“Physician shall not engage in the practice of neurosurgery or any related field of medical or surgical practice, within a radius of fifty (50) miles from the LMHS facility located on Cleveland Avenue, Fort Myers, Florida for a period of three (3) years following the date of termination of employment. Physician expressly agrees that this paragraph 10.c. is reasonable.”

Dr. Eskioglu voluntarily resigned from Lee Memorial and his last day of employment was March 18, 2011. Unfortunately, for him, he wants to continue his practice at Physicians Regional Medical Center in Naples, which is a little over 40 miles from Lee Memorial. Among other arguments, the doctor alleges that enforcement of the non-compete clause would harm the public because it would limit the public’s access to services in his neurosurgical specialty.

Unless Lee Memorial Hospital breached the employment contract with Dr. Eskioglu, he will have an uphill battle in attempting to invalidate the non-compete provision. Florida law enforces restrictive covenants if they are reasonable in time, area and line of business and set forth in a writing signed by the party against whom enforcement is sought, and the contractually specified restraint is supported by at least one legitimate business interest justifying the restraint, and reasonably necessary to protect that interest. Envtl. Servs. v. Carter, 9 So. 3d 1258, 1263 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist. 2009); § 542.335, Fla. Stat.

I will be watching for any resolution of this case.

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