Ark. Supreme Court Denies JBH’s Petition to Review Adverse Decision in Covenant Not to Compete Case

On Thursday, January 25, 2018, the Arkansas Supreme Court denied J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc.’s Petition for Review of an Arkansas Court of Appeals November 8, 2017, a decision vacating and reversing a preliminary injunction entered by the Benton County Circuit Court. 

In November 2016, J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. (J. B. Hunt) sued David Box, a former Regional Director of Transportation in J.B. Hunt’s brokerage division located in Memphis alleging that Box had accepted a job with Hub Group, Inc. in Memphis and disclosed confidential information and trade secrets to Hub Group, Inc. in violation of confidentiality, non-compete and restrictive stock agreements executed by Box during his employment with J.B. Hunt.

On February 14, 2017, an order was entered in the Benton County Circuit Court enjoining Box from disclosing confidential information or trade secrets and from holding any employment with Hub Group, Inc. from October 27, 2016, until October 27, 2017. Hub Group was thus forced to immediately terminate Box, leaving him unemployed.

In November, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision and specifically held that J.B. Hunt’s evidence failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits of its claims of breach of contract. In concluding that the injunction was wrongly issued, the Court of Appeals specifically rejected all of J.B. Hunt’s arguments.

Further, the Court of Appeals rejected J.B. Hunt’s claims the appeal was moot, an argument JB Hunt hoped to create when it moved to dismiss its complaint in the lower court shortly before the oral argument before the Court of Appeals.    

Box’s attorneys at trial and on appeal were Elizabeth Robben Murray, H. Wayne Young and Marshall S. Ney  of Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP.

The Arkansas Supreme Court’s rejection of J.B. Hunt’s Petition for Review will allow the remand of the matter back to the circuit court. 

The Court of Appeals decision is: David Box v. J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc., Case No. CV-17-207.  

Elizabeth heads the firm’s Labor and Employment Practice Group and serves on the firm’s Management Committee. Her litigation experience is extensive and includes matters such as product liability, natural gas litigation, discrimination lawsuits, covenants not to compete, commercial contracts and trade secrets misappropriation. 

Wayne is a partner with the firm and a member of the Labor and Employment Law Practice Group. He was named the 2017 Russell Gunter Legislative Advocacy Award Recipient by the Arkansas SHRM. The award recognizes outstanding contributions of time and effort in local, state or federal legislative advocacy on behalf of the Human Resources profession. 

Marshall serves as litigation counsel to businesses, insurance companies, school districts and individuals in most types of complex and commercial disputes, employment claims and insurance coverage issues.  His litigation experience is extensive and includes class action litigation, noncompetition agreements, trade secrets, corporate dissolutions, discrimination suits, business contracts, bankruptcy discharge challenges, insurance contracts, bad faith claims, education law and special education law.