In the October issue of the DCBA Brief, we discussed the present uncertainty in Illinois about the enforceability of physician non-compete agreements, suggesting that the Illinois Supreme Court might soon provide guidance on the issue.1 As the issue was going to press, the Illinois Supreme Court decided Carter-Shields v. Alton Health Institute,2 but failed to provide clarification about the enforceability of physician non-compete agreements. Rather, the court ruled that the agreement at issue was void under the corporate practice of medicine doctrine. The court did comment that the appellate court’s determination regarding the validity of physician non-compete agreements was "wholly advisory," and therefore vacated that portion of its ruling.
So what does this mean? Obviously, the questions are still unresolved, but given the fact that the appellate court’s holding was vacated, there is now less precedent to argue against the unenforceability of such agreements. The main point of the article, that in advising clients, a word of caution is necessary until the Illinois Supreme Court rules on the point, remains correct. We will now have to wait for another case to hear what Illinois’ highest court has to say.
1 David Fish and Charles Corrigan, Physician Non-Compete Agreements in Illinois: Diagnosis – Critical Condition; Prognosis – Uncertain, DCBA Brief, Vol. 15, Issue 2, at 18 (October 2002).
2 2002 Ill. LEXIS 622 (2002).
David J. Fish practices with The Collins Law Firm in Naperville. He is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law.
Chuck Corrigan is a partner in The Collins Law Firm. He received his B.S. in Economics from Georgetown University and his J.D. from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago.