AMN Healthcare, Inc. v. Aya Healthcare Servs., Inc., 2018 WL 5669154 (Cal. Ct. App. 2018)

AMN and Aya are competitors in the business of providing travel nurses on a temporary basis to medical care facilities throughout the country. As a condition of employment with AMN, four of its “travel nurse recruiters” had signed a Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreement (“CNDA”), which among other things prohibited them from soliciting any employee of AMN to leave the service of AMN for a period of at least one year. After the travel nurse recruiters left AMN and joined Aya, AMN sued them for breach of contract and misappropriation of confidential information, including trade secrets under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”); the nurses filed a cross-complaint for declaratory relief and unfair business competition against AMN. The trial court granted the travel nurse recruiters’ motion for summary judgment on the ground that the employee non-solicitation provision in the CNDA violated Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 16600 (the anti-noncompete statute), enjoined AMN from seeking to enforce it and awarded the nurses their attorneys’ fees. The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that the employee non-solicitation provision “clearly restrained [the travel nurse recruiters] from practicing with Aya their chosen profession – recruiting travel nurses on 13-week assignments with AMN.” The Court also affirmed dismissal of AMN’s UTSA claim on the ground that the nurses who were recruited already were independently known to Aya and their identity did not constitute a trade secret.