FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, [NO. 04CV-16-1752]
HONORABLE BRAD KARREN, JUDGE.
Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP, by: Elizabeth R. Murray,
H. Wayne Young, Jr., and Joshua C. Ashley, for appellant.
& Co., PLLC, by: Tim J. Cullen, for appellee.
KENNETH S. HIXSON, JUDGE.
the second appeal in this litigation between appellant David
Box and his former employer, appellee J.B. Hunt Transport,
Inc. (hereinafter "J.B. Hunt"). The first appeal
was an interlocutory appeal wherein Box challenged the trial
court's order granting J.B. Hunt's motion for an
injunction and temporary restraining order. The temporary
order was based on three agreements containing
confidentiality, noncompete, and restricted stock provisions
executed between the parties during Box's employment, and
the order enjoined Box from disclosing confidential
information and trade secrets to Hub Group, Inc. (hereinafter
"Hub Group"), and from employment with Hub Group
for a period of one year from Box's separation from J.B.
Hunt. In Box v. J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc., 2017
Ark.App. 605, 533 S.W.3d 603 (Box I), we held that
the trial court abused its discretion in granting J.B.
Hunt's motion for an injunction and a temporary
restraining order because, inter alia, J.B. Hunt failed to
demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits, and we
reversed and remanded.
we reversed and remanded, Box filed a motion for damages and
attorney's fees against J.B. Hunt. Box sought damages
incurred as a result of the injunction and attorney's
fees for prevailing on the injunction issue. J.B. Hunt filed
a motion to strike Box's motion, arguing that the trial
court lacked jurisdiction to act on Box's motion because,
while the appeal in Box I was pending, J.B. Hunt
voluntarily dismissed its underlying complaint against Box.
J.B. Hunt asserted that the case was closed and that because
more than ninety days had elapsed since the trial court's
order of dismissal, the case had been fully and finally
dismissed. The trial court agreed with J.B. Hunt and entered
an order finding that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction
to rule on Box's motion for damages and attorney's
fees pursuant to Rule 60(c) of the Arkansas Rules of Civil
brings this second appeal in the matter, challenging the
trial court's order wherein the trial court found that it
lacked jurisdiction to rule on Box's motion for damages
and attorney's fees. On appeal, Box argues that the trial
court erred as a matter of law in dismissing for lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction and that the trial court
disregarded our mandate in Box I, thus depriving Box
of his statutory right to seek damages and attorney's
fees associated with the wrongful injunction. We agree that
the trial court erred in finding that it lacked
subject-matter jurisdiction to rule on Box's motion.
Therefore, we reverse and remand.
relevant facts and procedural history are as follows. Box was
employed by J.B. Hunt from 2000 until he resigned on October
27, 2016. For the last five years of his employment there,
Box worked as a director of transportation in J.B. Hunt's
integrated capacity solutions division in Memphis, Tennessee.
After leaving his employment with J.B. Hunt, Box accepted a
position with another transportation company, Hub Group, as a
regional vice president of operations in the Memphis region.
litigation began on November 22, 2016, when J.B. Hunt filed a
complaint for breach of contract against Box. J.B. Hunt
alleged that by accepting employment with Hub Group, Box had
violated various noncompete and confidentiality agreements
executed during his employment with J.B. Hunt. Generally,
J.B. Hunt claimed that Box's employment with Hub Group
was the same or substantially similar to his employment with
J.B. Hunt and that performing his responsibilities at Hub
Group may result in Box disclosing trade secrets or
confidential information of J.B. Hunt that would afford Hub
Group an unfair competitive advantage. J.B. Hunt requested an
order permanently enjoining Box from disclosing any of J.B.
Hunt's confidential information and trade secrets, and
temporarily enjoining him from employment with Hub Group.
November 23, 2016, which was one day after it filed its
complaint, J.B. Hunt filed a motion for an injunction and
temporary restraining order. On February 14, 2017, the trial
court entered an order granting J.B. Hunt's motion for an
injunction and temporary restraining order, finding that
irreparable harm would result in the absence of an injunction
or restraining order, and that J.B. Hunt had demonstrated a
likelihood of success on the merits of its breach-of-contract
complaint. Based on these findings, the trial court enjoined
Box from disclosing confidential information and trade
secrets and from employment with Hub Group through October
27, 2017. The trial court also awarded J.B. Hunt
attorney's fees and costs. The court had not yet
determined the amount of attorney's fees or costs when
Box appealed from the interlocutory order entered on February
14, 2017, as he was permitted to do under Arkansas Rule of
Appellate Procedure-Civil 2(a)(6), resulting in the first
appeal to this court.
the record for the interlocutory appeal was lodged by Box in
this court and after briefs were filed, on September 26,
2017, J.B. Hunt filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss its
complaint in the circuit court pursuant to Arkansas Rule of
Civil Procedure 41(a). The trial court entered an order
dismissing J.B. Hunt's complaint without prejudice on the
same day. Subsequently, J.B. Hunt filed a motion to dismiss
the appeal before this court. J.B. Hunt argued that the
appeal in Box I should be dismissed for two reasons.
First, it asserted that it had recently exercised its right
in the court below to a voluntary dismissal of its underlying
complaint against Box under Arkansas Rule of Civil Procedure
41(a). J.B. Hunt contended that because its original claims
were dismissed without prejudice, the provisional remedy
based on those claims, i.e., the temporary restraining order
and preliminary injunction, had been dissolved. J.B. Hunt
also noted in its motion that Box had not filed a
counterclaim. Second, J.B. Hunt argued that the appeal should
be dismissed as moot because the temporary restraining order
by its terms expired on October 27, 2017, which was just two
days after the case was scheduled to be orally argued before
our court, making a decision prior to expiration of the
temporary order practically impossible.
Box I, before addressing the merits of the
interlocutory appeal, we first addressed the motion to
dismiss appeal filed by J.B. Hunt. We denied J.B. Hunt's
motion to dismiss the appeal. We stated that when the record
was filed with our court, there had been no such order of
dismissal entered, and that it was therefore not part of our
record. Because we will not consider a document
not in the record, we stated that J.B. Hunt's argument
that the appeal should be dismissed because it voluntarily
dismissed its action below was not before us. We also
concluded that the expiration of the temporary order did not
moot our review of the order. We noted that in the order
being appealed, the trial court awarded attorney's fees
and costs to J.B. Hunt, which was one of the issues Box
raised on appeal. In addition, citing Arkansas Rule of Civil
Procedure 65(c) and Ark. Code Ann. § 16-113-405(a)(1)
(Repl. 2016), we noted that in the temporary restraining
order, the trial court ordered J.B. Hunt to post security in
an amount sufficient to pay the damages sustained by Box
should he be found to have been wrongfully enjoined or
restrained. For those reasons, we concluded that our decision
in Box I would likely have practical legal effects.
Finally, we stated that even were we to agree that a decision
rendered on appeal would not affect the rights of the
parties, the appeal fell under an exception to the mootness
doctrine because it involved issues that were capable of
repetition but evaded review. For those reasons, we reached
the merits of the appeal in Box I.
deciding the merits in Box I, we examined each of
the relevant agreements executed by the parties during
Box's employment with J.B. Hunt as applied to the facts
presented below. We held that the trial court abused its
discretion in granting J.B. Hunt's motion for an
injunction and restraining order because J.B. Hunt failed to
demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits, and that
the trial court made insufficient findings and conclusions to
support its order. Therefore, we reversed and remanded.
we delivered Box I on November 8, 2017, J.B. Hunt
filed a petition for rehearing with this court and a petition
for review with the supreme court, both of which were denied.
Our mandate was issued on January 25, 2018. On the same day
the mandate was issued, Box filed a motion to recall the
mandate for recovery of additional costs. We granted
Box's motion and issued an amended mandate on February
February 21, 2018, the same day our amended mandate issued in
Box I, Box filed in the trial court a motion for
damages and attorney's fees. Box alleged that he incurred
damages as a result of the dissolved preliminary injunction,
including lost income, lost stock opportunities, lost 401(k)
matching funds, higher medical-insurance costs, and emotional
distress. Box claimed entitlement to these damages pursuant
to Ark. Code Ann. § 16-113-405(a)(1) (Repl. 2016), which
Upon the dissolution in whole or in part of any injunction or
restraining order of any and every kind and nature
whatsoever, the circuit court wherein the injunction or
restraining order was pending may assess and render against
principal and sureties on the injunction bond a valid
judgment for any and all damages occasioned by the issuance
of such injunction or restraining order.
also claimed entitlement to attorney's fees under Ark.
Code Ann. § 16-22-308 (Repl. 1999) for prevailing on the
merits of the preliminary-injunction issue.
March 12, 2018, J.B. Hunt filed a motion to strike Box's
motion and, alternatively, a response in opposition to
Box's motion for damages and attorney's fees. J.B.
Hunt's primary argument was that the case was
administratively closed on September 26, 2017, when the trial
court granted J.B. Hunt's motion for voluntary nonsuit
and entered an order dismissing J.B. Hunt's complaint
without prejudice. J.B. Hunt contended that the trial court
lacked jurisdiction to consider Box's motion for damages
and attorney's fees because the motion was filed in a
closed case more than ninety days after the order of
dismissal. Beyond the jurisdictional claim, J.B. Hunt raised
numerous other defenses to Box's motion.
1, 2018, the trial court entered an "Order finding this
court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction." In its order,
the trial court made the following ...