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Doran v. Heartland Bank

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

May 8, 2018

Justin S. Doran et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees/ Cross-Appellants,
v.
Heartland Bank, Defendant-Appellant/ Cross-Appellee.

          APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas C.P.C. No. 16CV-06-5401

         On brief:

          Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP, Natalie M. McLaughlin, Nelson D. Cary and Daniel J. Clark, for appellees/cross-appellants.

          Meyer & Kerschner, Ltd., Michael D. Stultz, and Christopher C Camboni; Ice Miller LLP, and Paul L Bittner, for appellant/cross-appellee.

          Cooper & Elliott, LLC, and Rex H. Elliott, as amicus curiae.

         Argued:

          Natalie M. McLaughlin.

          Michael D. Stultz.

          DECISION

          HORTON, J.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant/cross-appellee, Heartland Bank ("Heartland" or "appellant"), and plaintiffs-appellees/cross-appellants, Justin S. Doran ("Doran") and Columbus First Bank ("Columbus First" or collectively the "appellees"), appeal from a July 18, 2016 decision and entry of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. Appellees have filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds of mootness. For the reasons that follow, we dismiss the appeal as moot.

          I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         {¶ 2} In light of our resolution of this matter, we will briefly summarize the facts. Doran worked for another bank for eight years and was trained as a commercial loan officer prior to starting work for Heartland on February 4, 2013. Several weeks after starting employment, Heartland requested Doran sign an employment agreement that had nocompete and non-solicitation covenants. As he had already resigned from his previous job and been working at Heartland for several weeks, he decided to sign the agreement.

         {¶ 3} As time went on, Doran became one of Heartland's top commercial loan officers. In February 2015, Doran was invited to participate in Heartland's performance driven retirement plan. The performance-based retirement plan consists of (1) a bank-funded investment for the employee, and (2) a life insurance policy for the employee. The banking industry commonly calls these benefits Bank-Owned Life Insurance plans or "BOLIs." Doran's BOLI also had one year non-compete and non-solicitation restrictions on his employment after separating from Heartland. It was Heartland's intention for the BOLI plan restrictions to take the place of the restrictions in Doran's employment agreement. Doran signed the BOLI plan.

         {¶ 4} In May 2016, Doran decided to take a job with Columbus First. Doran resigned on May 4, 2016 and requested that Heartland release him from his non-compete restriction. Doran's anticipated start date with Columbus First was May 19, 2016. Shortly before that date, Heartland sent letters to Doran and Columbus First, threatening to pursue all available remedies contending that the employment of Doran by Columbus First was in violation of Doran's BOLI plan and that Columbus First had tortiously interfered with Doran's contract with Heartland. In response, ...


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