United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
contract action is before the Court on Concepts in
Production, LLC's motion for preliminary injunction. Doc.
August 4, 2017, Concepts in Production, LLC
(“CIP”), invoking federal question and diversity
jurisdiction, filed in this Court a “Complaint for
Injunctive Relief and Damages” against Justin Joiner.
Doc. #1. The complaint alleges that Joiner, a former employee
of CIP, is in violation of a “Non-Compete and
Nondisclosure Agreement” (“Agreement”) he
signed as a part of his employment. Id. at 2. Based
on this alleged violation, CIP asserts claims for: (1) breach
of contract; (2) breach of fiduciary duty; (3) accounting;
(4) punitive damages; (5) conversion; (6) injunctive relief;
(7) spoliation of evidence; (8) violation of the Defense of
Trade Secret Act; (9) violation of Mississippi's Uniform
Trade Secrets Act; (10) fraud; (11) intentional interference
with business relations/contracts; and (12) violation of the
Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
served Joiner with a copy of the complaint on August 15,
2017. Doc. #3. Approximately three weeks later, on September
5, 2017, CIP filed a motion for preliminary injunction. Doc.
#5. The same day, Joiner answered CIP's complaint. Doc.
#7. Joiner's answer contains two counterclaims: a claim
for a declaratory judgment that the Agreement is
unenforceable, and a claim for intentional infliction of
emotional distress. Joiner responded in opposition to the
motion for preliminary injunction on September 19, 2017. Doc.
#11. On September 26, 2017, CIP answered Joiner's
counterclaims. Doc. #15.
on April 4, 2018, this Court held a two-day evidentiary
hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction. Following
the hearing, the Court directed the submission of
supplemental briefs. Doc. #59. CIP filed its supplemental
brief on April 30, 2018. Doc. #62. Joiner filed his
supplemental brief on May 29, 2018. Doc. #65.
Preliminary Injunction Standard
general matter, “federal law governs the procedural
questions when a preliminary injunction may issue and what
standards of review … apply[. However, courts] analyze
the substantive legal questions under, and in light of, the
relevant state's law in a diversity case.”
Heil Trailer Int'l Co. v. Kula, 542
Fed.Appx. 329, 335 n.22 (5th Cir. 2013) (quoting Flood v.
ClearOne Commc'ns, Inc., 618 F.3d 1110,
1117 (10th Cir. 2010)) (quotation marks and alterations
omitted). “[A]t the preliminary injunction stage, the
procedures in the district court are less formal, and the
district court may rely on otherwise inadmissible evidence,
including hearsay evidence.” Sierra Club,
Lone Star Chapter v. F.D.I.C., 992 F.2d 545, 551 (5th
Cir. 1993). However, “the record must nevertheless
support [a] court's decision.” Id.
Three-Dimensional Printing, CIP, and the Metal X
case deals primarily with the marketing and sale of
three-dimensional (“3-D”) printers. 3-D printers
create three-dimensional objects by taking information
produced from a computer-aided design system and laying a
substance, either plastic polymer or metal, to form the shape
specified. Metal 3-D printers, the type relevant here, may be
used in either desktop (office) or industrial settings, and
are measured by, among other things, the maximum metal
density of the parts they produce.
density of a printed object refers to the presence of defects
in the material after production and is measured on a scale
of 0% to 100%, with 100% representing a material free of
defects. Because defects in a substance will form cracks
which will grow, the density of an object is
“critically important” in the aerospace,
automotive, and medical industries.
located in Amory, Mississippi, sells manufacturing
technology, including 3-D printers. CIP also sells computer
numerical control systems, SolidWorks design software, and
other engineering services to a wide variety of industries.
Since 2015, CIP has sold 3-D polymer printers produced by
Markforged. During the fourth quarter of 2016, CIP began
selling, but not shipping, a Markforged metal printing
machine known as the Metal X.
Metal X printer is marketed for industrial environments and
utilizes a process called atomic fusion, in which a part is
printed in layers with metal powder and then washed and fused
together in a process known as sintering. The printer has a
maximum metal density of 99.7% and sells for approximately
$100, 000. Ex. P-8.
CIP's Hire of Joiner
March 6, 2017, CIP hired Justin Joiner to work as a sales
account manager to sell “every product that CIP sells,
” including the Metal X, to consumers in Tennessee,
Alabama, and the Florida panhandle. Prior to hire by CIP,
Joiner had most recently worked as a territory sales
representative for GoEngineer, a Texas company offering
software and ancillary services and products to design and
manufacturing industries. Ex. P-16. Before GoEngineer, Joiner
worked as a business development manager for ModernTech
Solutions, an Alabama company which sold 3D printers and
related services, including SolidWorks. Id.
day he began his employment with CIP, Joiner executed a
“Non-Compete and Nondisclosure Agreement.” Ex.
P-1. The Agreement provided in relevant part:
Section II. Upon expiration or termination of this agreement
and for a period of two years following employment, Justin
Joiner agrees not to compete with [CIP] within a 300 mile
radius of [CIP's office] located at 1208 Guy Pickle
Drive, Amory, Mississippi.
The non-compete clause will not apply if this agreement is
terminated as a result of [CIP] violating the terms of this
Competition is defined, for the purpose of this agreement, as
having ownership in, being employed by, managing, consulting
for or rendering services to any organization or individual
that is or was a client of [CIP] during Justin Joiner's
employment with [CIP] or for any other business substantially
similar to or competitive with [CIP] or any of the following
types of business: Sales of SOLIDWORKS or any other product
offered by [CIP].