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I received an email with intent to sue me, must I respond and shouldn't it be sent priority mail not email?

Sherman Oaks, CA |

I opened my own insurance agency/broker. My former employer is assuming I am taking there clients. My clients always had my cell phone number and they are reaching out to me! I have signed them to state that I did not reach out to them and they called me. I signed a non compete agreement with my former employer but again they are calling me. I am sick of the threats and want to know if I need an attorney to respond to their email of intent to sue. I just opened and do not want to have legal issues. Also shouldn't they have sent it priority mail or is email o.k? Thank you

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Attorney answers 8


You should consult with an attorney to review your non compete agreement (which often times are not enforceable in California) and the circumstances surrounding your new business (use of prior employer's trade secrets). Many attorneys will offer a free consultation for one hour. If the communication you received was simply a letter, email is fine and there is no requirement that they serve you via priority mail. If the communication you received was actually a summons or complaint, a more formal means of service beyond email is required. Good luck.

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Definitely consult with an attorney. An attorney may be able to stop this pretty fast because, as the other lawyer pointed out, noncompete agreements are often unenforcebable in California. But whether the noncompete can be enforced against you, and whether you've done anything that could constitute theft of trade secrets, is something a lawyer can help you figure out.

I am licensed only in California and this response is provided as general information only. It is not intended to be legal advice. Legal advice must be based on the specific facts of the particular situation, and by necessity this forum is not appropriate for discussion of specific facts. Contact a lawyer for legal advice. My answer to your question on AVVO does not create an attorney-client relationship.


You are not required to respond to an email or a telephone call. However, if you fail to address this situation you may end up being sued. And if you are served with a lawsuit you will be required to respond.

Your best bet is to contact an attorney immediately and seek advice regarding how this matter may be resolved. If litigation can be avoided, total legal costs may be significantly less than if a lawsuit is filed. While you have no legal obligation to respond to the email, it may be in your best business interests to seek a resolution immediately.


No need to respond to an email. Wait until you are actually served with a summons and complaint. You need to consult with a business attorney.


You should speak with an attorney as soon as you can about this. Have him/her review your non compete agreement, because those are often times not enforceable in California. Whether yours is will depend upon your particular situation. As far as responding to the e-mail, you have obligation to respond but you might want to do so to try and resolve the situation. Before you do, however, I would speak with an attorney first to figure out where you stand. If it's feasible, you should also engage an attorney to negotiate on your behalf as well. Most attorneys (including my office) will provide you with a free initial consultation to give you a general idea as to what your options are. However you proceed, I wish you the best of luck!

The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyze this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.


I agree you need to consult with an attorney so you fully understand your legal right to compete with your prior employer and the difference between fair competition and unfair competition, especially when trade secrets are involved. An attorney drafted letter, under the right set of facts, may cause your previous employer to think three times before instituting such litigation against you. -- Michael

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In addition to other answers, they are not reqd to use a particular means of communication. Email is fine. They will have to serve you properly with a lawsuit if it goes that far.


Short answer: if you choose to respond, have an attorney do it. Whatever you say as the defendant will be used against you in court, so the wisest course of action is usually to say nothing at all and let counsel deal with it.