This case concerns a 10-year agreement by which plaintiff, an endodontist, contracted to perform consulting services for defendant Dentsply, a business that manufactured and sold endodontic products for the dental industry. The agreement prohibited plaintiff from disclosing any confidential information about Dentsply’s business affairs or from competing with Dentsply for three years after the termination of the agreement. But immediately prior to the end of the 10-year term of the agreement, plaintiff brought suit contending that the confidentially and non-compete provisions of the agreement were unenforceable, and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The case proceeded to arbitration during which the arbitrator sided with Dentsply and enjoined plaintiff from breaching the confidentiality and non-compete provisions. Dentsply then filed a motion to confirm the arbitrator’s preliminary injunction award.
Plaintiff opposed Dentsply’s motion, asserting a number of arguments based on the notion that the preliminary injunction was not sufficiently final to be confirmed by the court. The court rejected each of plaintiff’s arguments and then considered “whether, in the absence of binding Supreme Court or Tenth Circuit precedent, the Court should join the district and circuit courts that have considered interim arbitral awards final for the purposes of judicial review and confirm the Ruling.” The court decided to join those courts and confirmed the arbitrator’s preliminary injunction. The court reasoned that the interim arbitration ruling “finally and definitively enjoin[ed] plaintiff from breaching the 2007 agreement’s confidentiality and non-compete provisions during the pendency of the arbitration, and if the Ruling [was] not enforced, a subsequent award of injunctive relief to defendant may be rendered meaningless.” Moreover, the Court reasoned that the Ruling was “not a preliminary or procedural trifle, and expending the judicial resources to confirm it does not frustrate our arbitration system’s goal of expediency.” Instead, the Court found, “confirming the Ruling [gave] teeth to the arbitrator’s interim award of equitable relief, thereby promoting arbitration as an efficacious and reliable alternative to the litigation process.” , Case No. 16-CV-0520-CVE-PJC (USDC N.D. Okla. Sept. 27, 2017).