Justia Antitrust & Trade Regulation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Employment Law
Am. Chem. Soc’y v. Leadscope, Inc.
Certain individuals who worked for American Chemical Society (ACS) founded Leadscope Inc. and later received a patent for technology similar to that on which they worked while at ACS. ACS filed a lawsuit against Leadscope. A newspaper subsequently published an article about the suit quoting ACS's counsel. In pertinent part, the jury returned verdicts in favor of Leadscope on its counterclaims for defamation and unfair competition. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court (1) upheld the appellate court's decision affirming the trial court's denial of ACS's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) on the unfair competition claim, holding (i) a party alleging a claim for unfair competition must show the action is baseless and the opposing party had the intent to injure the party's ability to be competitive, and (ii) the jury instructions here did not meet that test, but the jury could not reasonably have made any other determination with proper instructions; and (2) reversed the appellate court's finding that the trial court properly overruled ACS's motion for JNOV on Leadscope's counterclaim for defamation, holding (i) ACS's statements were not defamatory, and (ii) a client is vicariously liable for its attorney's defamatory statements only if the client ratified the statements.View "Am. Chem. Soc'y v. Leadscope, Inc." on Justia Law
Nuvasive, Inc. v. Lanx, Inc.
NuVasive alleges that Lanx improperly persuaded NuVasive employees and a NuVasive consultant to leave NuVasive and work for Lanx instead, in breach of agreements that the employees had with NuVasive, to misappropriate NuVasive’s trade secrets and other proprietary information. Both are medical corporations. NuVasive claimed unfair competition, tortious interference with contractual relations, tortious interference with prospective contractual relations, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, civil conspiracy, and misappropriation of trade secrets. Lanx argued that the former NuVasive employees were necessary and indispensable parties to the action because NuVasive’s claims are predicated upon their acts. The chancellor declined to dismiss. While the former employees’ interests are not adequately protected by Lanx, the chancellor reasoned that a remedy could be crafted to avoid prejudice to their interests. The former employees were not indispensable to the misappropriation claim.View "Nuvasive, Inc. v. Lanx, Inc." on Justia Law
Loparex, LLC v. MPI Release Techs., LLC
Stephan Odders and Gerald Kerber were former employees of Loparex, a corporation in the release liner industry. Both employees were subject to a one-year noncompetition agreement upon termination of employment. After ceasing employment at Loparex, both employees began employment with MPI Release Technologies, a competitor in the release liner industry. Loparex sued Kerber and Odders (Defendants) in the U.S. district court, seeking injunctive relief under the Illinois Trade Secrets Act and damages resulting from Defendants' breach of the noncompetition agreement. Defendants filed amended answers and counterclaims accusing Loparex of blacklisting in violation of Indiana law. The Supreme Court accepted certification to answer questions of state law and held (1) Wabash Railroad Co. v. Young, which held that Indiana's Blacklisting Statute did not provide a cause of action to individuals who voluntarily leave their employment, is no longer good law and individuals who voluntarily leave employment are not barred from making a claim under the Blacklisting Statute; (2) attorney fees are not an element of compensatory damages under the Blacklisting Statute; and (3) an employer's suit against a former employee to protect trade secrets is not a basis for recovery under the Blacklisting Statute.View "Loparex, LLC v. MPI Release Techs., LLC" on Justia Law
Finkel v. Cashman Prof’l, Inc.
When Employee left his employment, Employee and Employer entered into a consulting agreement containing restrictive covenants prohibiting Employee from disclosing Employer's confidential information. After Employee purchased another competing company, Employer filed a motion alleging breach of the agreement and seeking a preliminary injunction to enforce the Agreement's covenants. The district court granted Employer's request, concluding that Employee had likely violated several provisions of the agreement and had misappropriated trade secrets in violation of Nevada's Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Employee then filed a motion to dissolve the preliminary injunction upon termination of the agreement, which the district court denied. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the court's order granting preliminary injunctive relief; and (2) reversed the court's order denying Employee's motion to dissolve the injunctive provisions, finding that the court improperly relied on the terminated agreement in declining to dissolve the injunction and failed to make findings as to the continued existence of a trade secret and for what constitutes a "reasonable period of time" for maintaining an injunction under the Act. View "Finkel v. Cashman Prof'l, Inc." on Justia Law
Wolfe Elec., Inc. v. Duckworth
The case involved a manufacturer of conveyor pizza ovens, Wolfe Electric, its former employee, Terry Duckworth, and the competing business Duckworth helped form, Global Cooking Systems. Wolfe Electric brought suit against Duckworth and Global Cooking for misappropriation of secrets under the Kansas Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Wolfe Electric also separately alleged Duckworth breached his fiduciary duty and his employment contract while Global allegedly tortiously interfered with Duckworth's employment contract. A jury found for Wolfe Electric on all causes of action and awarded damages in a variety of categories. Both parties appealed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that multiple erroneous jury instructions and a verdict that failed to specify which of the innumerable acts alleged actually caused which of the particular damages awarded required reversal. Remanded.View "Wolfe Elec., Inc. v. Duckworth" on Justia Law
Parks v. Alpharma
While employed with Alpharma, a pharmaceutical company, Debra Parks was involved in marketing a prescription drug known as Kadian. Parks filed a complaint in circuit court for wrongful termination in violation of public policy, claiming that Alpharma was involved in illegal marketing activities and that after Parks had raised her concerns with various people at Alpharma, Alpharma retaliated against her by terminating her employment. The circuit court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. While Parks' appeal was pending in the intermediate appellate court, the Court of Appeals granted certiorari on its own initiative. The Court affirmed the ruling of the circuit court on the basis that Parks failed to identify any clear mandate of public policy allegedly violated by Alpharma and allegedly reported by her that would constitute some of the required elements of a wrongful discharge claim.View "Parks v. Alpharma" on Justia Law