Client Spotlight: Stoel Rives Prevails for Eye Surgeon in Case Over Dissolution of Practice and Release from Non-compete Agreements

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A Stoel Rives litigation team prevailed for their client, a physician and one of two 50-percent shareholders of a retinal surgery practice, obtaining a Washington Court of Appeals ruling that upheld a trial court’s summary judgment, affirming dismissal of the practice founder’s claims against the client for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, and tortious interference. The team was led by attorneys James Shore and Anthony Miles and included Jill Bowman, Karin Jones and Chris Wall and paralegal Sandra Watanabe.

When the client was offered the opportunity to become an equal shareholder, the two physicians signed several agreements, including non-compete clauses, that established their business relationships with the practice and each other. The practice ran into financial difficulties, leading to litigation. When the client sought to leave the practice, its founder put up legal roadblocks, and Shore and Miles counseled the client for more than a year in his attempt to amicably resolve the dispute. Ultimately, the practice founder’s conduct made it clear that litigation was the only viable path to achieve their client’s goal. The team sued to dissolve the practice and to ensure that the non-compete provisions imposed on their client would not impede his future employment options. Over the course of litigation involving claims and counter-claims, the practice was put into receivership and finally dissolved, freeing the client from his non-compete agreements. The practice founder filed an appeal alleging he had personal claims against the client that were not derived from his being a shareholder. After more than two years of litigation, the Court of Appeals unanimously ruled in the client’s favor.

The final decision can be found here.

Key Contributors

Jill D. Bowman
Karin D. Jones
James M. Shore
Christopher T. Wall
Sandra L. Watanabe, RP
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