When the student challenges the master in a Hollywood movie, it is usually a feel-good moment that leaves the audience rooting for the underdog to win. When it happens in the world of business, however, the situation is sure to be more complicated, have higher stakes, and leave both sides feeling apprehension about what to do next. MKT Law in Minneapolis recently managed a breach of contract case over a non-compete agreement in which a student and a mentor were at odds, and only a business litigation attorney could bring about the conclusion.
Two Cosmetic Tattoo Businesses, One Restrictive Contract
An up-and-coming Cosmetic Tattoo Operator decided to open a new, local, and specialized tattoo business not far from her home. After spending a year complying with a non-compete agreement presumed valid by operating her business 15 miles from her home, the Cosmetic Tattoo Technician decided to move her location nearer to home. The problem was, the new location was right across the street from her former mentor—who had made the mentee sign the non-compete agreement .
In order to become licensed as a Cosmetic Tattoo Technician, the new business owner had to go through a mandatory number of training hours with a licensed individual to gain the experience to obtain her own license from the State. At the end of the necessary training on the last day of her mentorship and before the mentor would sign off on the required State licensing papers, the mentor had the now-qualified new licensee sign a non-compete agreement with clauses that prohibited the new business from operating within 15 miles of the mentor for two full years. It was not the most warming of send-offs, to say the least.
The mentor was in the newly-licensed tattooist’s hometown, so it made sense for her to want to start a business there. When she found the perfect location for her new studio, it just so happened to be directly across the street from the mentor’s location. To not much surprise, the cease and desist letter arrived before the doors to the business were ever opened to the public.
MKT Law was retained by the newly-licensed business owner and that business’s Cosmetic Tattoo Technician. The first thing to do whenever you are told to sign a non-compete agreement is to see if it is reasonable and enforceable. Upon reading the contract, researching the business’s locations and objectives, and analyzing the situation from a legal standpoint, MKT Law was able to determine that the cease and desist letter was most likely unenforceable since the non-compete agreement itself was questionable.
Open for Business as Planned
The new business went ahead with its opening schedule and did so without a hitch. Within two months of opening, the new business owner was sued by her former mentor, who was trying to enforce the non-compete agreement. The contract presented to the tattooist, as determined previously by MKT Law, was done so without any consideration, in other words there was not anything of value given in exchange for entering the disfavored restriction on her ability to practice her trade. It was essentially discouraging her, and trying to punish her, for using her license that she had put so much time, money and effort into earning.
When the lawsuit was brought to her doorstep, she contacted MKT Law again. This time the matter needed the court’s attention. MKT Law was able to defend the new business and dismantle the opposition’s argument. A dismissal was obtained and the mentor’s claims were disregarded before even being able to argue the case. It is uncommon to achieve such a sweeping victory, and it brings great pride to our team at MKT Law to have been able to represent a Cosmetic Tattoo Operator on the rise against a mentor that wished her less than well.
If your business has been served a cease and desist order, of if you feel you are being treated unfairly in a business transaction, call 612.260.5109 to talk to a trusted and experienced Minnesota business litigation attorney at MKT Law. With our keen understanding of business law and client-focused approach to complicated professional matters, you can rest easy that your case is in good hands when you retain our team. Learn more by requesting a confidential case review.