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Plaintiffs Awarded Over $1 Million After Bench Trial in a Trade Secrets Case

In Judgments, Verdicts on November 2, 2010 at 11:41 am
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After a bench trial in San Francisco Superior Court, plaintiffs in a trade secrets case recovered judgment on the merits against certain defendants in the amount of $921,469, plus pre-judgment interest in the amount of $301,664, and punitive damages of $275,000.  UltraEx Inc. vs. Express It Delivery Services Inc., Case No., CGC-05-447942, 2010 WL 4260535, 44 Trials Digest 13th 5 (Cal. Sup. Ct. Verdict Date: April 1, 2010).

According to court records, on April 29, 1998, plaintiff UltraEx Inc. merged with two other corporations, Express It Courier Services Inc. (“Old Express It”) and 800 Courier Inc.  Id. *1. Plaintiff was the surviving corporation in this merger, but prior to the merger, Old Express It and 800 Courier had each been actively conducting a package delivery business in California.  Id. Defendant Express It Delivery Services Inc. (“New Express It”) was a California corporation formed in November 2004. Id.

Plaintiff alleged that in November 2003, the named individual defendants formed a plan to commence a delivery business and engage in unfair competition with plaintiff by using plaintiff’s confidential information and trade secrets. Id. Pursuant to this Plan, defendants formed defendant New Express It, and, in an attempt to enable defendant New Express It to wrongfully benefit from the goodwill of Old Express It’s business, gave defendant New Express It a name (“Express It Delivery Services Inc.”) that was confusingly similar to the Old Express It name (“Express It Courier Services Inc.”). Id. The individual defendants were alleged to have quit their employment with plaintiff and became employees of New Express It.  Id. Defendants allegedly began soliciting plaintiff’s customers, including all of plaintiff’s six biggest revenue-generating customers.  Id.

Plaintiff filed suit in 2005 for breach of contract, unfair competition, breach of Uniform Trade Secrets Act, misappropriation of trade secrets, intentional interference with contract, negligent interference with contract, intentional interference with economic relationship, and negligent interference with economic relationship.  Id. Plaintiff recovered judgment on the merits against defendants Pacific Distribution Services Inc. dba Express It Delivers, Salvatore Grassia, Michael Oakes, and Melody Kinnard, jointly and severally in the amount of $921,469, plus pre-judgment interest in the amount of $301,664, and punitive damages of: Pacific Distribution Services Inc. dba Express It Delivers-$200,000; Salvatore Grassia-$50,000; Michael Oakes-$20,000; Melody Kinnard-$5,000.  Id. Plaintiff recovered nothing from defendants John Quiroga and David Kinnard, who were awarded their costs.

Judge and Attorneys

Hon. Paul H. Alvarado.

Plaintiff: Robert E. Capron, Law Offices of Robert E. Capron, San Francisco.

Defendant: Bruce Alan Ericson, Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw, Pittman, San Francisco; Robert K. Phillips, Phillips, Spallas & Angstadt, San Francisco; Steven James Plas, Law Offices of Steven James Plas, Livermore.; Cross-complainant: Perry D. Ginsberg, Moyer, Parshall & Tweedy, Gold River; Hayne R. Moyer, Moyer, Parshall & Tweedy, Gold River.

By CHARLES JUNG

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