September 5, 2020
by: Deborah Childress
TAMPA, Fla. – Well-known personal injury attorney, Dennis Hernandez, has filed another lawsuit against a terminated employee for violations of a signed Non-Compete, Non-Solicitation and Confidentiality Agreement. An additional Confidentiality and Non-Disparagement Agreement was filed during or near the time the original Non-Compete Agreement was established between the parties.
In 2016, Hernandez filed a similar lawsuit suit against former employee Alyssa Santana, a paralegal at the firm from April 2015 until her termination on August 16, 2018. Hernandez filed a Notice of Dismissal on the case three months after filing it. The reason for the request to withdraw the case was not disclosed.
In Dennis Hernandez and Associates, P.A., a Florida Profit Corporation v Mina Boutsomsi, Hernandez is suing Ms. Boutsomsi for $1 Million Dollars in liquidated damages, based on paragraph 11 of the Confidentiality and Non-Disparagement Agreement that provides such compensation to Hernandez if a breach of contract occurs.
Hernandez also requests the court to issue a temporary and permanent injunction against Boutsomsi to prevent her from seeking employment that is competitive to Hernandez’ law firm, for three years and within 100 miles of his locations, as stated in the Non-Compete.
Boutsomsi’s current employer is BiFulco Medical Group in Tampa which is, in part, engaged in litigations pertaining to personal injury cases. Her job, according to her Linkedin profile is that of an administrative assistant; her position with Hernandez was “Marketing Representative and Settlement Paralegal.”
Hernandez’ lawsuit indicates that upon information and belief (meaning, with reason to be suspicious, but not absolutely sure) it is believed Boutsomsi, among other things, breached her agreement to refrain from making comments to anyone inside and outside of Plaintiff’s law firm about or concerning the business and/or personal matters related to any of the clients of Plaintiff’s firm.
Boutsomsi was purportedly terminated after serving six months at Hernandez’s law firm. The cause for termination is not disclosed in the lawsuit and no other information sources provided insight.
Questions in this case concern the number of liquidated damages requested for the Breach of Contract. Will the courts decide, as they sometimes do, that the amount of $1 Million Dollars is designed to punish Boutsomsi, rather than just collect a reasonable estimate of Hernandez’s losses due to her alleged Breaches of Contract?
Equally important, will the courts fully respect the Non-Compete and related Agreements as fair? In Florida Bar Journal dated March 2018, it is stated that in some cases, Florida’s Non-Compete Agreements have been considered excessively pro-employer.
In fact, various courts to the Federal level considering Florida’s Non-Compete cases, have considered the Sunshine State’s Non-Compete statutes as the most pro-employer in the United States. The Florida Bar Journal article also mentions that other states consider Florida’s non-competes as “obnoxious.”
In a federal case of Transunion Risk and Alternative Data Solution, Inc. v. MacLachlan, the Florida statute requirement not to consider harm to the Defendant party, when hearing cases, was reversed after applied in a district court. Trial courts are sometimes recommended as a better approach to justice in Non-Compete disputes.
Florida’s Non-Compete statutes have not been updated for 20 years.
Dennis Hernandez and Mina Boutsomsi have not responded to email or telephone inquiring about the case.