Laura Angelini, now the GM for Baxter’s chronic renal business, was hired last August to be worldwide president of Baxter’s biosurgery division after a 25-year career at J&J’s Ethicon and DePuy Orthopaedics businesses. Johnson & Johnson sued to enforce its non-compete agreement with Angelini, alleging that emails and a 20-minute Ethicon presentation she attended contained confidential information.
Angelini countered that she didn’t pre-read the emails and doesn’t remember and of the confidential information revealed during the Ethicon presentation. But in September 2016, the U.S. District Court for Middle Florida granted J&J’s bid for a temporary restraining order, barring her from taking the biosurg president job at Baxter.
Yesterday the U.S. Appeals Court for the 11th Circuit granted Angelini’s appeal, ruling that the lower court should have held an evidentiary hearing before granting the TRO.
“In determining that Angelini is privy to the confidential information, the court credited the statements of individuals claiming that Angelini participated during Ethicon’s presentation, in the face of Angelini’s own statement that she paid no attention to either the pre-read materials or the emails. Indeed, the district court’s interpretation of the statements provided is plausible. Angelini could have been paying close attention to Ethicon’s presentation and she could have been actively participating in the sharing of that information, meaning that she is in fact privy to the confidential information at issue. But the opposite conclusion is just as plausible,” the appeals court found.
The 11th Circuit remanded the case back to the district court and ordered an evidentiary hearing on the TRO.