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Fitzgerald Knaier LLP Prevails in Trade Secret Case
In the underlying case, the City of San Diego awarded a competitively bid contract to provide the City with a computerized system for dispatching tow trucks. A dispute arose among the winner of the contract and several other companies regarding, in part, tow dispatching communications software provided by Dispatch & Tracking Solutions, LLC ("DTS").
In the trial court, DTS asserted a claim against Orion under the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act, contending that Orion misappropriated DTS's software. Orion quickly moved for summary judgment, arguing, among other things, that there was no evidence that it misappropriated any trade secrets. DTS offered a declaration from a computer science expert in support of its claims. Orion objected to that evidence as irrelevant, lacking in foundation, and speculative. In July 2012, the trial court sustained Orion's objections, granted Orion's motion for summary judgment, and granted Orion's request for an award of $120,000 in attorneys' fees and costs under section 3426.4 of the Code of Civil Procedure-finding that DTS had pursued its claims against Orion in bad faith.
DTS appealed. After extensive briefing and oral argument, the Court of Appeal found no abuse of discretion in the trial court's evidentiary rulings, and affirmed the grant of summary judgment in Orion's favor. In doing so, the Court of Appeal found, among other things, that DTS's expert declaration "had no evidentiary value on the issue of Orion's alleged copying of DTS's trade secrets"-and that it was "purely speculative"
The Court of Appeal also affirmed the trial court's award of attorneys' fees and costs to Orion, concluding that "the trial court reasonably found that DTS's trade secret claim against Orion was objectively specious and subjectively maintained in bad faith." Specifically, DTS had no evidence that Orion misappropriated any trade secrets, and in fact had sued "for the improper purpose of dissuading Orion from moving forward in San Diego."
According to lead counsel Ken Fitzgerald, this win is not only a vindication of Orion and Ms. DeLatte, but also an important confirmation that the courts will not tolerate plaintiffs that bring baseless intellectual property lawsuits for improper purposes-and that doing so can come at a steep cost.
Fitzgerald Knaier LLP is a law firm of highly experienced trial attorneys committed to aggressive, honest advocacy. It is a San Diego boutique litigation firm, focused exclusively on trying cases and handling controversies for its clients. For more information, go to www.fitzgeraldknaier.com.
Kenneth M. Fitzgerald