Friday, November 29, 2013

American Broadcasting Companies v. Wolf case brief

American Broadcasting Companies v. Wolf case brief summary
420 N.E.2d 363 (1981)

Plaintiff broadcasting company appealed the judgment of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the First Judicial Department (New York) dismissing plaintiff's complaint for an injunction against defendant sports reporter in a breach of contract case.

Plaintiff broadcasting company sued defendant sports reporter for breach of a contract clause calling for good faith negotiations and sought to enjoin defendant from working for a competitor.


  • The court affirmed the denial of an injunction. 
  • The court held that defendant had breached the clause but that an injunction would not lie for simple breach of personal services contract after defendant was no longer obligated to provide services, absent a covenant not to compete, or other factor such as the need to protect trade secrets. 
  • The court noted that the law generally disfavored anticompetitive covenants in contracts, that such covenants were rarely implied in law, and an injunction would operate to apply a disfavored policy. 
  • The court refused to grant an injunction that would unduly interfere with defendant's livelihood and inhibit free competition where there was no corresponding injury to plaintiff other than the loss of a competitive edge.

The court affirmed the judgment for defendant sports reporter because his simple breach of contract, absent a covenant not to compete, or threat of tortious conduct, did not warrant injunction against defendant's employment with plaintiff's competitor after expiration of term of parties' contract, in derogation of policy disfavoring anticompetitive covenants.

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