Washington County Judge Doug Martin granted a temporary restraining order Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale requested against a former executive who took a job with a Little Rock competitor.
Martin had previously granted an emergency restraining order against Rex Holstein and Mountaire Corp. on Dec. 10. Martin’s order, issued Tuesday afternoon, will remain in effect until a court hearing Jan. 20 in his courtroom.
Martin’s ruling said Tyson Foods’ argument showed a “likelihood of success” and that the company could suffer “irreparable harm” without the injunction preventing Holstein from working for Mountaire. Tyson Foods filed its original lawsuit Dec. 8 through attorneys Chad Moeller and Corinne Biller of Neal Gerber & Eisenberg of Chicago and Susan Keller Kendall of the Kendall Law Firm in Rogers.
Holstein and Mountaire were represented by attorneys David Martin and B.J. Walker of the Rose Law Firm of Little Rock.
Holstein worked for Tyson Foods for 27 years, including the last seven years as the company’s vice president of commodity purchasing. Tyson Foods said Holstein’s annual salary was $320,000 and he resigned Nov. 29, less than a week after receiving a $350,000 bonus.
In his position at Tyson Foods, Holstein oversaw a department with a $3 billion budget in fiscal 2021 and was privy to confidential information on comedy purchasing and trading that Tyson Foods said other companies would not be able to develop without significant investment.
In the lawsuit, Tyson Foods said Holstein signed a noncompetition agreement in 2018 in which Holstein agreed to not take a job with similar responsibilities with a Tyson Foods competitor for 12 months after he left the company. Holstein was named vice president of Agri-Business at Mountaire shortly after his resignation from Tyson Foods.