Opinion by Judge J. Frederick Motz
Filed July 23, 2009
Facts: Glynn sold assets of his company to EDO and signed a non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement and restrictive covenants. He went to work for EDO and worked with one James Martin. EDO ultimately discharged both Glynn and Martin who formed companies that began to compete against EDO.
Glynn brought this action against EDO alleging retaliation in violation of the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3730 et seq., and wrongful termination. EDO filed counterclaims against Glynn and his wholly-owned LLC asserting numerous state law causes of action arising from Glynn’s alleged actions during and after his employment with EDO's corporate predecessor, including breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of trade secrets, conversion, defamation, tortious interference with advantageous relations, unjust enrichment, and civil conspiracy. While styled as a "cross-claim," EDO asserted similar claims against Martin.
Martin was not a resident of Maryland. He was served while in Maryland to file, pro se, a request for an extension of time to challenge EDO's assertion of the Court's ability to exercise personal jurisdiction over him.
1. Claim for conversion based upon alleged conversion “proprietary documents, employee information, technology design and schematics, contact lists, vendor and pricing information, and other trade secrets and non-trade secret proprietary and confidential information” are based on the misappropriation of EDO's information. Hence, such claims are subject to dismissal because such claims are preempted by the New Hampshire Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“NHUTSA”). Claims for conversion of physical property such as a desk or a chair is not preempted.
2. A claim for conversion by spending company time on matters for the company's competitors is also subject to dismissal because an employee's conduct on company time is not in the nature of a property or right which may be the subject of conversion.
3. EDO asserted that the alleged wrongful acts of Glynn and his company allowed them to “gain a head start” in developing and producing products, resulted in benefits such as profits, earnings, patent royalties, and commissions. Thus, EDO made a claim for unjust enrichment. Judge Motz denied the motion to dismiss of the unjust enrichment claim, holding that it was “premised on wrongdoing over and above” the misappropriation or misuse of EDO's information.
4. The Court denied the motion to dismiss claims of civil conspiracy because the allegations that Glynn et al. agreed and conspired to “misappropriate, defraud, and convert [EDO]’s proprietary and confidential information and trade secrets” and “unlawfully commit unfair competition and interference with [EDO]'s contractual and prospective business relationships” was sufficient to state a claim “where the elements of the claim require[d] some allegation or factual showing in addition to that which [formed] the basis for [the] claim of misappropriation of a trade secret.”
5. As to Martin, there were insufficient facts upon which to assert either general or long-arm jurisdiction. Martin's appearance in Maryland to request an extension of time to raise the jurisdictional defense does not constitute an implied waiver of the defense.
The opinion has been recommended for publication and the full opinion is available in PDF.