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Wood v. May

The Supreme Court of Washington
73 Wash.2d 307 (1968)


Gordon Wood (plaintiff) was a master horseshoer in Spanaway, Washington. In the county where Wood worked, there were approximately 3,000 horses and eight professional horseshoers. William May (defendant) entered into an agreement to become an apprentice horseshoer to Wood. Wood and May executed a contract that included a covenant not to compete by restricting May from working as a horseshoer within a 100-mile radius of Wood’s business for a period of five years. May worked for Wood for almost two years, then quit to start his own horseshoeing business in Tacoma, a distance of five miles from Spanaway. Wood sued May, seeking to enjoin him from doing business, in violation of the noncompete clause in their contract. The trial court dismissed the suit, holding that the noncompete clause’s 100-mile radius provision was unreasonable. Believing the contract to be indivisible, the trial court would not modify the terms of the unenforceable noncompete clause. Wood appealed. The issues on appeal were: (1) whether the noncompete agreement was void for reasons of public policy, (2) whether the agreement was void for lack of adequate consideration, (3) whether the agreement’s geographical and time restrictions were unreasonable, and (4) whether a court could modify unreasonable noncompete restrictions.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Finley, C.J.)

Dissent (Rossellini, J.)

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