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Biography

Kathleen Hart concentrates her practice in civil and commercial litigation, frequently pursuing or defending cases that involve injunctive relief, such as breach of non-competition agreements, trade secret misappropriation, and unfair competition claims; contract and property disputes; shareholder and corporate control battles; failed business transactions; and RICO, fraud, embezzlement and business tort claims. She helps clients evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their claims and defenses in order to position themselves to resolve disputes.

In addition, Kathleen serves as outside general counsel for various privately-held businesses and strategist to high net-worth individuals, using her combined employment law and litigation experience to help them evaluate or negotiate employment, non-competition, confidentiality/non-disclosure, employment, change-in-control, and severance agreements. For most of her career, Kathleen has also assisted women and minority clients obtain MBE/WBE/DBE certification with governmental or other certifying agencies.

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Community Activity

Pass The Torch For Women Foundation, Board Member (2019 to present)

  • The Pass the Torch for Women Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose vision is to create a unique and powerful community galvanized by a shared belief in the value of women’s leadership. Its approach in supporting women throughout their career pathway with mentoring relationships, networking, and leadership training sets the Foundation apart from other organizations.

Indiana Federal Community Defenders, Inc., Board Member (2019 to present)

  • The Indiana Federal Community Defenders, Inc., a non-profit corporation formed in 1993, is led by Chief Federal Defender Monica Foster. Its mission is to provide high quality, client-centered representation to indigent defendants charged with a federal crime, as well as to provide resources and training to Federal Criminal Justice Act panel attorneys. The Board, comprised of 13 attorneys selected by the judges of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, is charged with overseeing, supporting, and charting the best possible course for the IFCD to provide the best service to clients and the court.

Assistance League of Indianapolis, Advisory Council to the Board (2007-present)

  • Assistance League of Indianapolis is a nonprofit all volunteer organization committed to serving the needs of children and adults through ongoing philanthropic programs developed and managed by its members.

U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Local Rules Advisory Committee Member (1998-2019)

Upon request of various schools or non-profit programs, Kathleen serves as an inspirational speaker to empower challenged teenage students

Representative Matters

  • Represented conglomerate of multi-state, multi-million-dollar businesses in defending against lawsuit brought by estate of a founding member attempting to take control of businesses; ultimately resolved dispute with divestiture of estate’s ownership in all businesses
  • Represented trustees of multi-million-dollar estate involving varied real estate parcels to be divided among multiple heirs; defeated all allegations of breach of fiduciary duty and prevailed in trial court judgment for clients
  • Represented different business clients in separate embezzlement cases, including judgments against offenders, coordination of criminal prosecution, seizure of assets, collection measures against offenders, and pursuit of malpractice action with client-favorable settlement against accounting firm whose annual reviews failed to meet GAAP standards
  • Represented longstanding manufacturing client in issuing first industry-standard safety warning system for products by researching, analyzing, and drafting product warning labels compliant with ANSI standards in coordination with engineering employees
  • Represented national companies in defending against collective action brought under FLSA for wage misclassification and underpayment; ultimately resolved dispute by capitalizing on rare opportunity to warrant nominal client involvement
  • Regularly represent multiple business and individual clients in interpreting, negotiating, and drafting various contracts or successful termination of contracts, including executive/management employment agreements, compensation plans, separation/severance agreements, change-in-control, confidentiality/non-disclosure, non-competition agreements, operating agreements, partnership agreements, and bylaws, as well as third-party contracts involving franchised transactions, real estate, joint venture, commerce, intellectual property, patent license, franchise, retail, rental, supply, manufacturing, warranty, regulatory, and consumer-related matters
  • Regularly represent clients to obtain or defeat injunctive relief being sought and to otherwise resolve lawsuits involving non-competition claims, including those involving medical/physician, executive/management, shareholder/founders, sales, industrial/manufacturing, and financial/banking
  • Regularly assist multiple business clients with formation of entities, conversion of entities, governing documents, corporate governance, legal compliance issues, and preparation of private placement memoranda
  • Regularly counsel numerous businesses who hire employees subject to non-compete or other restrictive covenants, and/or employees who need legal analysis of enforceability or compliance respecting prospective employment
  • Regularly counsel and assist clients in obtaining certification for minority business enterprise (MBE), woman-owned business enterprise (WBE), disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE), and service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) with various regional, state, and local governmental or certifying agencies
  • Regularly serve as outside general counsel for various privately-held businesses, providing legal advice or project management to meet their daily, varied legal and business needs

REPORTED CASES

  • Webster v. Methodist Occupational Health Centers, Inc., 141 F.3d 1236 (7th Cir. 1998)
  • Indiana Dept. of Ins. v. Vernon General Ins. Co., 784 N.E.2d 556 (Ind. Ct. App. 2003)
  • Sherrell v. N. Cmty. Sch. Corp. of Tipton County, 801 N.E.2d 693 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004)
  • Allgood v. Meridian Sec. Ins. Co., 836 N.E.2d 243 (Ind. 2005)
  • Lawler Mfg. Co. v. Bradley Corp., 2009 WL 1159577 (S.D. Ind. 2009)
  • Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc. v. John Hancock Life Insurance Co., 582 F.3d.721 (7th Cir. 2009)
  • In re Miller, 935 N.E.2d 729 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010)

Publications & Presentations

Publications

Indiana Supreme Court Issues Decision Impacting Employment Agreements, RBE Blog (2020)

  • The Indiana Supreme Court recently published a decision that may prompt employers to review their employment agreements to narrow the scope of restrictive covenants (such as non-competition and non-solicitation clauses) if they want those agreements to be enforceable. READ ARTICLE

Three Areas Of Legal Risk To Address Early And Often, RBE Blog (2019)

  • Counsel representing businesses, their owners, or executives regularly earn their legal fees by resolving problems that arise from poor business practices. Those practices often evolved from temporary “fixes” to resolve emergencies or decisions that were never evaluated before they became the standards. Start-up or newly-successful companies often fail to allocate any portion of their budgets toward professional advice to advance their sophistication level in the marketplace. READ ARTICLE

Trade secret protection requires customized measures, The Indiana Lawyer (2018)

  • A trade secret is a statutorily created form of intellectual property that exists only when its owner takes “reasonable” measures to protect it from exposure. The definition of reasonableness varies depending on a multitude of factors applicable to the sophistication level of the owner’s business. Because there is “no one size fits all” analysis to determine whether something qualifies as a trade secret — including whether its owner took reasonable measures to protect it — a lawyer tasked with protecting a client’s trade secrets must be intimately familiar with the client’s protectable interests. This article outlines the factors that should be considered to best protect a client’s trade secrets under Indiana’s trade secret laws. READ ARTICLE

Safeguard Your Secrets to Protect Your Company's Future, RBE Blog (2017)

  • What is the secret to the success of your company? What have you worked hard to create, improve, perfect, and maintain? What would cause you grave concern if a competitor got ahold of your hard-earned information? Do your employees know what information to protect – and do they know they can use it only for your company and not for themselves or anyone else? READ ARTICLE
Presentations

“Covenants Not to Compete,” ICLEF, Program Chair (May 22, 2012)

Presenter for various seminars to attorneys, members of the public, and clients on topics such as injunctive relief, non-competition agreements, trade secret misappropriation claims, risk abatement, and various employment law issues faced by businesses (1995-present)

Awards & Recognition

Distinguished Senior Fellow, Indianapolis Bar Foundation (2014)

Distinguished Fellow, Indianapolis Bar Association (2011)

Indiana Super Lawyers® (2007-2009)

  • Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

Associations

Indianapolis Bar Association

  • Member (1994-present)
  • Board Member (2014-2015 and 2011-2012)
  • Counsel to the Board (2013)
  • Co-Chair of Standing Committee on Professionalism (2010)

Federal Bar Association, Indianapolis Chapter

  • President (2008-2009)
  • Officer/Executive Committee Member (2002-2010)

Sagamore American Inn of Court

  • Executive Committee/Barrister (2000-2010

Education

  • Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, J.D. (1994)
  • Indiana University, B.A., with distinction (1990)
  • National Institute for Trial Advocacy (Boulder, Colorado 2000), Graduate
  • ICLEF Civil Mediation Training (40 hours, Summer 2010), Graduate

Bar Admission

  • Indiana (1995)
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana (1995)
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana (1995)
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (1998)
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (2000)