United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION FOR
GUIROLA, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER came before the Court for a hearing on Plaintiff's
 Amended Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and
Preliminary Injunction on July 26, 2019. Plaintiff seeks an
injunction requiring Defendants, each a former employee, to
comply with the non-compete and non-recruitment clauses in
their employment agreements. Following the hearing, the
parties were allowed to submit closing briefs. After due
consideration of the evidence produced at the hearing, the
parties' arguments and the relevant law, it is the
Court's opinion that Plaintiff has carried its burden to
show that it would be irreparably harmed if Defendants Garlon
McCarty and Andrew Russell are not enjoined from violative
activities. The Motion will be denied as to the remaining
Hydroprocessing Associates, LLC (“HPA”) is a
contractor that provides highly specialized technical
services and mechanical work to, among others, Chevron
Corporation in Pascagoula. The eight defendants are
individuals who previously worked for HPA, but now work for a
competitor. Garlon McCarty is alleged to have been the
ringleader, leaving HPA to work for the competitor and
recruiting the other seven defendants. All Defendants signed
employment agreements that contain non-competition and
non-recruitment clauses. HPA seeks only an order under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 65 enjoining Defendants from violating the
noncompetition and non-recruitment clauses in their
employment agreements.Specifically, HPA wants Defendants enjoined
a. contacting or soliciting HPA's clients, including
Chevron, for the remainder of their respective 12-month
b. except as to Defendant Higgins, providing, or assisting
others in providing, products or services that compete with
HPA to HPA's clients, including Chevron; and
c. directly or indirectly soliciting for employment, hiring,
participating in the recruiting or hiring of, or going into
business with HPA's employees.
argue that 1) the non-competition provisions are unduly
oppressive and greater than necessary to protect HPA's
business interests, rendering them unreasonable; and 2) HPA
will suffer only loss of business income, which does not
constitute irreparable injury.
the pendency of the injunction motion, the Court entered an
 Order requiring the parties to maintain the status quo,
which remains in effect until entry of this order resolving
HPA's motion for injunctive relief.
The Legal Standard
obtain a preliminary injunction, the applicant must show: (1)
a substantial likelihood that he will prevail on the merits,
(2) a substantial threat that he will suffer irreparable
injury if the injunction is not granted, (3) that the
threatened injury outweighs the threatened harm to the party
whom the applicant seeks to enjoin, and (4) that granting the
preliminary injunction will not disserve the public interest.
Lake Charles Diesel, Inc. v. Gen. Motors Corp. 328
F.3d 192, 195-96 (5th Cir. 2003). The Fifth Circuit has
“cautioned repeatedly that a preliminary injunction is
an extraordinary remedy which should not be granted unless
the party seeking it has ‘clearly carried the burden of
persuasion' on all four requirements.” Id.
at 196 (quoting Miss. Power & Light Co. v. United Gas
Pipe Line Co., 760 F.2d 618, 621 (5th Cir. 1985)).
Findings of Fact
services HPA provides for oil refineries are “turnkey,
” meaning HPA provides all services that a refinery
could require related to its catalysts, including installing
blinds, removing exchangers, and mechanical services. (Tr.
22:7-25, ECF No. 31.) HPA also has the capability to handle
mechanical work with exchangers and equipment and machinery
outside catalyst work, and HPA has handled that work for
Chevron Corporation in the past. (Id. at 23:20-23;
45:17-20, 23-24; 54:11-21; 55:1-3.)
headquartered in Moss Point, Mississippi. (Id. at
23:1-3.) While HPA has offices elsewhere, and while HPA does
work in other locations, HPA does most of its work at
Chevron's refinery in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
(Id. at 23:12-17.) Since 2007, HPA has had a close
relationship with Chevron. (Id. at 29:11-25.) This
relationship - and HPA's safety and performance record -
led Chevron to designate HPA as a preferred vendor, meaning
HPA did not have to bid for Chevron work and simply submitted
projections instead. (Id. at 29:11-25; 33:4.)
preferred vendor status at Chevron was partly due to
Defendant Mike McCarty's role as HPA's go-to guy.
(Id. at 27:3-6; 139:18-20.) McCarty had been with
HPA for 12 years and was “the face” of HPA at the
Chevron refinery (id. at 27:3-6; 109:21-25),
overseeing all operations there as HPA's Operations
Manager (id. at 65:17). McCarty had intimate
knowledge of HPA's equipment and patented technology
(id. at 26:23 - 27:13), HPA's operations and
staffing (id. at 26:23 - 27:13; 134-135), and
HPA's costs for bidding and what it took to do the work
(id. at 27:7-16.) McCarty was responsible for
preparing projections and estimates for customers, including
Chevron. (Id. at 27:9-13.)
knew that its relationship with Chevron relied on the
leadership team McCarty had built and trained. (Id.
at 30:13-18.) HPA's work requires around 50 employees
(id. at 61:7-14), but McCarty's
“crew” made up the leadership that was
consistently called for every job at the Chevron refinery.
(Id. at 52:1-4.) McCarty's crew consisted of
each Defendant, except Andrew Russell:
• Justin Higgins was McCarty's “right-hand
person” as HPA's Project Manager, who was a key
client contact that communicated directly with Chevron's
impact-team leaders. (Id. at 22:21-23; 93:8-11;
• Harry O. Ridgdell was HPA's Lead Supervisor and
another “go-to guy” for HPA's customers.
(Id. at 94:1-8.) As the Lead Supervisor, Ridgdell
ran the whole job (id. at 174:12-15) and himself
oversaw the Lead Top Supervisor and Lead Ground Supervisor.
(Id. at 94:1-8.)
• Robert Barnett was a Lead Top Supervisor, who
supervised all work at the top of the reactor. (I ...