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Court denies FourKites’ effort to block project44 hirings

A state circuit court judge in Illinois has denied FreightTech company FourKites Inc.’s motion for emergency relief to block two former employees from joining archrival project44 Inc. for one year following the end of their tenures at Four Kites.

Judge Pamela McLean Meyerson’s ruling, issued orally April 12, is a victory for Chicago-based project44, which argued that the employees’ noncompete agreements with FourKites were so generic and overreaching as to be unenforceable. Project44 also said that FourKites failed to show that the ex-employees, Shanavina Stokes and Kyle Hightower, took trade secrets, sensitive customer-facing information or anything else with them when they resigned, or that FourKites lost any business as a result of their decisions to work elsewhere.

A transcript of Meyerson’s ruling was not available at press time. An attorney for FourKites did not immediately respond to the ruling and what the company’s next legal steps would be.

FourKites, also based in Chicago, said in its motion that the employees’ noncompete agreements barred them from working for a competitor for 12 months after their FourKites employment ended. Stokes, a dynamic yard implementation manager and delivery consultant, left FourKites in March after six months there. Hightower worked at FourKites for just over a year until he resigned at the end of January. Each took a job at project44 similar to their positions at FourKites, FourKites said.

Project44 argued that a party seeking an emergency temporary restraining order must prove that it actually needs protection, that no other legal remedies are available, that it would suffer irreparable harm without the order and that it would succeed on the merits. Given the ex-employees’ brief tenures at FourKites and the lack of proof that they took anything when they left, the FourKites motion falls well short of meeting the rigorous legal criteria to justify a TRO, project44 said. 

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