Cameron drops non-compete suit after judge’s ruling

Houston-based Cameron International Corp. dropped a non-compete lawsuit against FMC Technologies Singapore after a federal judge determined Cameron’s non-compete agreement was overly broad and couldn’t be used to stop an ex-Cameron employee from working for Houston-based FMC Technologies.

Cameron is owned by Schlumberger, the oil field services company. Another Schlumberger-owned company filed a similar non-compete case against Houston-based National Oilwell Varco that is scheduled for trial in February in Harris County district court. Companies often use non-compete agreements to keep their employees from changing jobs.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas in Houston refused Cameron’s request to issue an order that would have stopped its former employee, Steven Abbiss, from working in the Middle East, according to court documents. Atlas rejected Cameron’s argument that Abbiss, who was responsible for Cameron’s operations in Oman and Yemen, was privy to confidential information about the energy company’s entire Middle East operations. Information Abbiss gained was generic to the energy industry and would not prevent him from working for FMC in markets outside Oman and Yemen, according to Atlas’ decision.

“Cameron was overreaching and using this lawsuit to try to kill competition,” Houston lawyer Todd Mensing who is representing FMC, said in a written statement. “We are happy to see it did not work.”

Schlumberger said it would not comment.

Abbiss was able to continue working for FMC through the six months of litigation.