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ALBEE HOMES v. CADDIE HOMES (03/16/65)

decided: March 16, 1965.

ALBEE HOMES, INC.
v.
CADDIE HOMES, INC., APPELLANT



Appeals from decree of Court of Common Pleas No. 6 of Philadelphia County, March T., 1963, No. 4712, in case of Albee Homes, Inc., Albee Summit Homes, Inc., Albee Pearl Homes, Inc. et al. v. Caddie Homes, Inc., Meir Lutman and Haron Dahan.

COUNSEL

Allen J. Levin, with him Edward Greer, and Folz, Bard, Kamsler, Goodis & Greenfield, for appellants.

Pace Reich, with him Modell, Pincus, Hahn & Reich, for appellees.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen. Mr. Justice Cohen dissents.

Author: Eagen

[ 417 Pa. Page 180]

These are appeals from the decree of the Court of Common Pleas No. 6 of Philadelphia County granting a preliminary injunction to the plaintiffs, Albee Homes, Inc. and its subsidiaries (Albee), restraining the corporate defendant, Caddie Homes, Inc. (Caddie), and two individual defendants, Lutman and Dahan, from carrying out any course of conduct designed to induce Albee employees to terminate their employment.

Albee and Caddie are competitors engaged in the design, manufacture and sale of pre-cut homes and allied products. Albee brought this action for preliminary and permanent injunctions, alleging, inter alia, that the individual defendants had been former employees of Albee; that they had acquired secret trade information during the course of their employment with Albee and had thereafter used it unfairly upon leaving their employment to organize Caddie; that, knowing of the existence and nature of employment contracts which Albee had with each of its employees, the individual defendants induced and continued to attempt to induce Albee employees to terminate and violate their employment contracts; and that, Caddie, knowing of such wrongful activities, associated with the individual defendants in order to acquire the benefits thereof. Albee sought to enjoin Caddie from further engaging in a business similar to that of Albee, to restrain further disclosures of trade secrets, to enjoin the defendants from inducing Albee employees to terminate their employment contracts, and to recover both compensatory and punitive damages.

On a rule to show cause, the court below heard testimony and issued a preliminary injunction, enjoining Caddie, Lutman and Dahan, "from directly or indirectly

[ 417 Pa. Page 181]

    committing any act, and from communicating directly or indirectly with any person . . . in the employ of the plaintiffs Albee Homes, Inc. . . ., or following any course of conduct, designed to or which would have the effect of persuading or inducing any employee of the plaintiffs . . . to sever or terminate his or her relationship with the plaintiffs, or any of them." From the decree issuing this preliminary injunction these appeals are taken.

The scope of our review on an appeal from a decree either granting or denying a preliminary injunction is "to examine the record only to determine 'if there were any apparently reasonable grounds for the action of the court below . . . .' Lindenfelser v. Lindenfelser, 385 Pa. 342, 343-44, 123 A.2d 626, 627 (1956). (Emphasis supplied). Summit Township v. Fennell, 392 Pa. 313, 140 A.2d 789 (1958)." Alabama Binder & Chemical Corp. v. Pennsylvania Industrial Chemical Corp., 410 Pa. 214, 215, 189 A.2d 180, 181 (1963). And the essential prerequisites for the issuance of a preliminary injunction are: first, that it is necessary to prevent immediate and irreparable harm which could not be compensated by damages; second, that greater injury would result by refusing it than by granting it; and third, that it properly restores the parties to their status as it existed immediately prior to the alleged wrongful conduct. Alabama Binder & Chemical Corp. v. Pennsylvania Industrial Chemical Corp., supra. Even more essential, however, is the determination that the activity sought to be restrained is actionable, and that the injunction issued is reasonably suited to abate such activity. And unless the plaintiff's right is clear and the wrong is manifest, a preliminary injunction will not generally be awarded: Keystone Guild, Inc. v. Pappas, 399 Pa. 46, 159 A.2d 681 (1960), and Herman v. Dixon, 393 Pa. 33, 141 A.2d 576 (1958).

[ 417 Pa. Page 182]

In the first place, the offering of employment to a person under a contract, terminable at the will of either, with another is not actionable in and of itself: Morgan's Home Equipment Corp. v. Martucci, 390 Pa. 618, 136 A.2d 838 (1957); Harley & Lund Corp. v. Murray Rubber Co., 31 F. 2d 932 (2d Cir. 1929); and, Triangle Film Corp. v. Aircraft Pictures Corporations, 250 Fed. 981 (2d Cir. 1918). As stated in Morgan's Home Equipment Corp. v. Martucci, 390 Pa. at 633-634, 136 A.2d at 847: "The systematic inducing of employes to leave their present employment and take work with another is unlawful when the purpose of such enticement is to cripple and destroy an integral part of a competitive business organization rather than to obtain the services of particularly gifted or skilled employes. So also, when the ...


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