Lake Land Emp. Group Of Akron, Llc. v. Columber.

804 N.E.2d 27 (Ohio 2004)


D worked for P and one day quit and started his own competing company. While working at P, D signed a non-compete agreement which provided that for a period of three years after his termination of employment D would not engage in any business within a 50-mile radius of Akron, Ohio, that competed with the business of D. P sued D claiming a breach of the agreement. Lake D's employment with P terminated in 2001. D admitted that he had been employed by P from 1988 until 2001 and that he had signed the noncompetition agreement some three years after he started working for P and that following his discharge from P he had formed a corporation that is engaged in a business similar to that of P. D pled lack of consideration in his answer. D moved for summary judgment, claiming that the noncompetition agreement was unenforceable. He asserted that the agreement was not supported by consideration and that the restrictions in the agreement were overly restrictive and imposed an undue hardship on him. D could not remember whether he had been told that his continued employment was dependent upon execution of the agreement or whether he had posed questions about the restrictions it contained. After the agreement was signed, the at-will relationship of the parties continued for ten years thereafter. The trial court granted summary judgment in D's favor. Since D had 'no change in his employment status in connection with the signing of the noncompetition agreement,' there was no consideration to support the agreement. The court of appeals affirmed. It certified a conflict, however, between its decision and the judgments of other courts. The certified issue is 'Is subsequent employment alone sufficient consideration to support a covenant-not-to-compete agreement with an at-will employee entered into after employment has already begun?'