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Data Payment Systems, Inc. v. Caso

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

August 1, 2018

Data Payment Systems, Inc., etc., Appellant,
v.
Christopher Caso, etc., et al., Appellees.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          An Appeal from a non-final order from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Lower Tribunal No. 17-15057 Eric William Hendon, Judge.

          Barakat Law, PA, and Brian Barakat, for appellant.

          Garcia-Menocal & Perez, P.L., and Anthony J. Perez and Alfredo Garcia Menocal; The Carbonell Law Group, and Jorge Carbonell, for appellees.

          Before ROTHENBERG, C.J., and SUAREZ and SCALES, JJ.

          SCALES, J.

         Appellant, plaintiff below, Data Payment Systems, Inc. d/b/a One Payment ("Data Payment"), appeals a non-final order denying its motion seeking to temporarily enjoin appellees, defendants below, from violating covenants of non-compete agreements executed by two of the entity defendants. Because it appears from the transcript of the hearing on Data Payment's motion that the trial court (i) failed to consider the statutory presumption of irreparable injury potentially implicated in this case, and (ii) erroneously determined that Data Payment had an adequate remedy at law that precluded injunctive relief, we reverse and remand for the trial court to conduct a new hearing on Data Payment's motion.

         I. RELEVANT FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Data Payment is in the business of providing credit card and payment processing services to merchants in Florida and throughout the United States. Data Payment provides its services to its customers directly, and also through independent contractors referred to as "sub-offices."

         In July 2016, Data Payment entered into a written sub-office agreement with defendant Ignite Payments, Inc. ("Ignite"). This written sub-office agreement (the "Ignite agreement") contains restrictive covenants, including a non-compete clause[1] and a confidentiality clause.[2] Defendant Juan Marcos Batista executed this agreement on behalf of Ignite.

         Thereafter, Batista, along with another defendant, Christopher Caso, allegedly created defendant Onepay LLC ("Onepay"). In January 2017, Data Payment entered into a sub-office agreement with Onepay (the "Onepay agreement"). This agreement contains restrictive covenants[3] nearly identical to those contained in the Ignite agreement, including a "twelve-month" non-compete clause. The Onepay agreement was also executed by Batista.

         Thereafter, according to Data Payment, defendants Caso and Batista allegedly created a new business venture, Ireland Pay LLC ("Ireland Pay") to provide payment processing services in Florida in direct competition with Data Payment. Data Payment then terminated the Ignite and Onepay agreements for cause. Data Payment alleges that Caso and Batista, through their access to Data Payment's system by virtue of the Ignite and Onepay agreements, began to misappropriate Data Payment's trade secrets and to solicit Data Payment's customers. Caso also allegedly confronted a Data Payment employee at the place of business of a Data Payment customer and threatened the Data Payment employee with violence.

         In June 2017, Data Payment initiated the instant action against Ignite, Onepay, Ireland Pay, Batista and Caso. Data Payment's multi-count Second Amended Complaint asserts claims for temporary and permanent injunctive relief, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract, tortious interference, and to pierce the corporate veils of Ignite, Onepay and Ireland Pay. Relying on the non-compete and confidentiality provisions of the Ignite and Onepay agreements, Data Payment also sought emergency, temporary injunctive relief to enjoin: (i) each of the defendants from threatening any further acts of violence toward Data Payment and its employees; (ii) each of the defendants from retaining any of Data Payment's trade secrets or other confidential business information; (iii) Batista, Ignite, and Onepay from violating the restrictive covenants set forth in the Ignite and Onepay agreements; and (iv) Caso and Ireland Pay from aiding and abetting the other defendants in violating the restrictive covenants set forth in the Ignite and Onepay agreements.

         In October 2017, the trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing on Data Payment's temporary injunction motion, and, on October 27, 2017, entered the appealed-from order denying Data Payment's motion. The otherwise unelaborated order denies Data Payment's motion "as to all parties for reasons stated on the record." The transcript from the hearing indicates that the trial court denied Data Payment's motion because (i) Data Payment presented no testimony "putting a quantification" on any irreparable harm Data Payment allegedly would suffer if the injunction were not entered, and (ii) the availability of other causes of action ...


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