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Environmental Services, Inc. v. Carter, ___ So. 2d ___, 34 Fla. L. Weekly D836 (Fla. 5th DCA 4/24/09)

The trial court should not have refused to enforce against a former employee a covenant not to compete merely because the written agreement was lost.

Florida law expressly permits the introduction of parol evidence to prove the contents of a contract where the proponent provides a satisfactory explanation that the original contract was lost or destroyed.  As a general rule, the loss or unintentional destruction of a written document does not affect the validity of the transaction of which it is the evidence, or the rights and liabilities of the parties to the instrument.  While it would be preferable to reestablish the written instrument in the manner authorized by section 71.011, Florida Statutes (2008) [Reestablishment of papers, records, and files], the failure to do so in not fatal to [the former employer’s] attempts to enforce the agreement against [the former employee], provided that the trial court is satisfied as to its essential terms.  [Citations omitted]