Attorneys Steven C. Smith and Mark T. Kearney Win Ruling on Motions for Partial Summary Judgment in Multi-Million Dollar Trade Secret Case
4 Nov 2014 Smith LC
Smith LC attorneys Steven C. Smith and Mark T. Kearney, representing one of the world’s largest essential oils companies and its founders against claims brought by a major competitor (represented by a large Utah firm), recently prevailed on various motions for partial summary judgment in a multi-million dollar trade secret case before Judge Christine S. Johnson in the Fourth Judicial District Court, Utah County, State of Utah. Representing defendants, Smith LC filed motions for partial summary judgment arguing that the majority of plaintiff’s claims were barred by the applicable statute of limitations and preempted by Utah’s Trade Secrets Act. In a 49 page ruling following extensive briefing and oral argument, the Court found that defendants had successfully established that plaintiff had failed to bring the claims within the applicable statute of limitations period and, in addition, the claims were preempted by Utah’s Trade Secrets Act.
As to some of the claims at issue, plaintiff argued that it was entitled to damages for distraction to its business or, in the alternative, to nominal damages. After finding that Smith LC had successfully established that plaintiff was not entitled to damages for distraction to its business, the Court stated with respect to plaintiff’s alternative request for nominal damages, “Given the extraordinary effort (in both time and money) which has been invested into these proceedings thus far, the notion that this particular claim should proceed forward so that [plaintiff] can request one dollar in damages is troubling.”
Another issue on which defendants prevailed involved the interpretation of certain contracts between the parties. With respect to the contract interpretation advanced by plaintiff, the Court stated that plaintiff’s “reading of the contract is strained at best, and is suggestive of playing a game of ‘Twister’ with contract clauses.”
The overall result of the Court’s ruling was: (1) judgment in favor of the corporate entity defendants represented by Smith LC on all claims (effectively removing the corporate entity defendants from the case), and (2) leaving only a small fraction of the original claims against some of the individual defendants. Working as co-counsel with Smith LC on the case are Stephen Quesenberry and Aaron R. Harris of Durham, Jones & Pinegar, P.C. Other defendants in the case are represented by Mark R. Gaylord and Tyler M. Hawkins of Ballard Spahr LLP. As motions for summary judgment are notoriously difficult to win for the moving party, particularly when so much is at stake, Smith LC is very proud of this result.
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