Case Summaries - Trade Secrets/Non-Competes

Archive for the ‘Trade Secrets/Non-Competes’ Category
Schlumberger Limited and Schlumberger Technology Corporation v. Charlotte Rutherford

In only five months, AZA helped client Charlotte Rutherford get four-fifths of her case dismissed and those who sued her slapped with record high fees and sanctions totaling $600,000. This case illustrates AZA’s ability to shred a case in pretrial and beat bigger firms. Ms. Rutherford, Schlumberger’s former Deputy General Counsel for IP, faced highly publicized “revenge” litigation from Schlumberger. AZA achieved extraordinary results – leaving the case with only one cause of action and little hope for damages. AZA also left Schlumberger tagged with $350,000 in attorney’s fees and $250,000 in sanctions for overreaching in its allegations. Both fees and sanctions are record highs under the law.

Rutherford had left Schlumberger to join Acacia Research Group to lead its move into the energy sector. After her new employer sued Schlumberger for patent infringement, Schlumberger launched a scorched-earth attack against her. Before she hired AZA, Rutherford was confronted with a Schlumberger TRO based on affidavits that AZA later proved to be false. Once retained, AZA forced Schlumberger to voluntarily dissolve the TRO and abandon its attempt at a temporary injunction.

AZA lawyers: Joseph Y. Ahmad and Tim Shelby.

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MBI Global L.L.C. v. Hunter Buildings & Manufacturing, L.P. et al.

AZA, successfully represented Milo Nickel and Michael LeBlanc, former executives of plaintiff MBI Global LLC., a manufacturer of  modular blast-resistant buildings. MBI accused the men of breaching their fiduciary duty, and misappropriating trade secrets to launch the competing business BBG Group with co-defendant Hunter Buildings & Manufacturing, L.P.

AZA  parachuted into the trial five days before jury selection. Before trial MBI claimed damages of at least $100 million, but was awarded $4.4 million, with jurors issuing zero-responsibility findings against AZA clients Mr. Nickel and Mr. LeBlanc. Despite this, the trial court ruled all the defendants were liable for the verdict.

The Harris County’s 14th Court of Appeals later said the trial court erred by disregarding the jury’s zero-responsibility finding for Mr. Nickel and Mr. LeBlanc, and also ruled that the evidence didn’t show any defendants caused MBI’s alleged damages. A take-nothing judgment was entered in favor of all the defendants.

AZA lawyer: Todd Mensing.  AZA served as lead counsel for its clients in trial and on appeal.

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Sentinel Integrity Solutions, Inc. v. Mistras Group, Inc., et al.

Sentinel Integrity Solutions, Inc. v. Mistras Group, Inc., et al.

AZA successfully defended Mistras Group, Inc. and its employees in a $9 million lawsuit alleging breach of non-competition agreements, theft of trade secrets and tortious interference.

Mistras, a global leader in assessing the safety of large corporate infrastructure components such as refineries and bridges, was wrongly accused by competitor Sentinel Integrity Solutions of tortious interference. AZA defeated Sentinel’s efforts to obtain a temporary restraining order and a temporary injunction, and later prevailed in a three-week jury trial. AZA also convinced the jury to make Sentinel pay $750,000 in attorneys’ fees through trial plus fees on appeal.

The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s final judgment, upholding the $750,000 fee award to AZA’s client. According to Texas Lawyer  and Verdict Search, this original jury award of attorneys’ fees was the fourth-largest defense verdict delivered in Texas in 2011.

AZA Lawyers: John Zavitsanos and Elizabeth Pannill Fletcher.  AZA served as lead counsel for both trial and appeal.

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Houston, TX 77010
(713) 655-1101

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