On July 10, 2018, Smith LC attorneys Steve Smith and Kipp Muir and their co-counsel secured an attorneys’ fee award of over $1.8 million in favor of their clients, the Defendants in the Utah state court case of Young Living Essential Oils, LC v. dōTERRA, Inc. et al. that began in 2012 and was hotly contested throughout.
Smith LC had previously obtained a dismissal of Young Living’s trade secret and related claims by way of a summary judgment motion based on a statute of limitations defense. Following a month-long jury trial in the summer of 2017 on the limited contractual claims that remained, which resulted in a verdict in favor of Smith LC’s clients, Smith LC filed a motion seeking attorneys’ fees for having to defend against Young Living’s bad-faith claim for trade secret misappropriation. Utah, like California and many other states, has adopted the Uniform Trade Secret Act, which allows a defendant to recover attorneys’ fees incurred in defending against misappropriation claims brought in bad faith. The motion argued that Young Living knew its trade secrets claims were untimely and that Young Living fabricated a web of lies and tampered with evidence in an attempt to justify its meritless claims. The Court agreed.
In justifying its significant attorneys’ fees award, the Court’s July 10, 2018 Ruling explained that this was a “highly-complex case involving international companies, trade secrets, and massive amounts of discovery which was gathered from various locations around the world. The task of defending against Young Living’s claims was made even more daunting by the fact that Young Living sought damages in excess of $300 million dollars.” The case was made even more complex by the fact that it “involved numerous defendants. Not all defendants had the same defenses and legal interests. Different breaches of contract, and varying uses of confidential information were alleged.”
The Court further noted that “highly-skilled attorneys were needed to analyze the issues presented and prepare an appropriate strategy. . . . Ultimately, the legal strategy adopted by Defendants’ counsel proved to be successful, with the Court finding in favor of Defendants on multiple pre-trial motions, and the jury finding in Defendants’ favor at trial.”
This case illustrates the complex nature of trade secret claims as well as the importance of having a solid legal strategy. Smith LC was pleased to provide its legal expertise in vindicating its clients, especially since their clients had been subjected to Young Living’s bad faith tactics for years. dōTERRA was delighted with the results as well and hopes the Court’s ruling can end what has previously been a contentious relationship with Young Living. (See dōTERRA’s Press Release at https://www.doterra.com/US/en/judge-awards-doterra-legal-fees)