United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
GEORGE J. HAZEL, District Judge.
This is a diversity action brought by Plaintiff 3PD, Inc. ("3PD") against a former employee, Donald Rose ("Rose"), and its competitor U.S. Transport Corp. ("U.S. Transport") (collectively, "Defendants") for purported violations of the Maryland Uniform Trade Secrets Act, conversion, and tortious interference with prospective business relations. This Memorandum Opinion and accompanying Order address Defendants' motions for summary judgment. See ECF Nos. 81, 82. A hearing on these motions was held on July 1, 2015. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motions for summary judgment are GRANTED. 3PD's amended complaint is therefore dismissed with prejudice.
3PD is a full-service logistical support company, with a nationwide customer base comprised largely of major consumer product retailers. See ECF No. 65 at ¶ 1. Rose was a general manager for 3PD in charge of supervising and organizing all centralized customer dispatching and routing for 3PD's customer, Lowe's Home Centers ("Lowe's"). See id. at ¶ 4. On August 5, 2013, Rose notified 3PD that he was resigning, effective August 17, 2013, to take a position with U.S. Transport, one of 3PD's competitors. See id. at ¶ 10. Both before and after Rose's resignation, but before his final day of work at 3PD, Rose forwarded to his personal email account confidential 3PD information that 3PD contends was trade secret information. See id. at ¶ 11. That information included "price sheets, task sheets, budgets, forecasts, solicitation of employees, meeting notes, methods of scheduling, forecasts for the Lowe's accounts, preferred carriers and contact information." ECF No. 64-3 at ¶ 21. After this discovery, 3PD terminated Rose on August 13, 2013. See ECF No. 81-1 at 7.
On August 20, 2013, 3PD filed a complaint, together with a motion for temporary restraining order ("TRO"), against Defendants seeking to, among other things, prevent them from using the information taken by Rose. See ECF Nos. 1, 2. This Court granted the TRO on August 22, 2013 and then extended it on September 5, 2013. See ECF Nos. 8, 18. On September 10, 2013, the Court entered a Consent Order extending the injunctive relief in perpetuity. See ECF No. 22. Specifically, the Consent Order provides that Defendants:
are enjoined, prohibited and restrained from communicating, utilizing, forwarding, reviewing (except with their own counsel) to any person other than [3PD], including to or with any independent contractors, all trade secrets, confidential information, or proprietary information of 3PD, Inc., including any and all spreadsheets, e-mails, attachment to any e-mails, documents, business methods, business practices (except as publicized on advertising or general public communications of 3PD), customer lists, customer contact names, addresses and phones including any information contained in or referenced in any of the exhibits to the Complaint herein;
B) Defendants are enjoined, prohibited or restrained from soliciting or contacting any employee of [3PD] for purposes of seeking non-public information or based on any information provided by Defendant Rose;
C) Defendants [U.S. Transport] and Rose, as well as all employees, officers, managers, or agents of [U.S. Transport], are enjoined, prohibited and restrained from modifying, destroying, or by inaction allowing the destruction or removal, of any record, document or communication, physical or electronic, including but not limited to phone records, electronic records, e-mails, attachments to any record, text messages, that relates to any allegations in the Complaint and are hereby directed to take reasonable efforts to preserve any such records document or communication, including any such records documents, or communications that may be found in the personal files, telephone records, or e-mail account of Rose or any employee, officer, manager, or agent of [U.S. Transport].
ECF No. 22.
As for U.S. Transport, it contends that it first became aware of Rose's alleged actions after it was served with 3PD's complaint on August 23, 2013. See ECF No. 81-2 at 2. While U.S. Transport had extended an offer of employment to Rose on or about July 31, 2013, he was not yet an employee of U.S. Transport at the time it received the complaint. See id. Shortly after reviewing the allegations made by 3PD against Rose, U.S. Transport verbally rescinded its offer of employment and later confirmed the same in writing to Rose on August 26, 2013. See id.; see also ECF No. 81-3 at 8-9. Ultimately, U.S. Transport determined that Rose did not forward any of the stolen information to it. See ECF No. 81-4. As such, in December 2013, U.S. Transport reextended an offer of employment to Rose to serve as its Northeast Regional Manager, which he accepted. See ECF No. 81-3 at 6, 10.
Following the entry of the Consent Order, the parties conducted lengthy discovery regarding 3PD's three count amended complaint, which included claims for misappropriation of trade secrets under the Maryland Uniform Trade Secrets Act, conversion, and tortious interference with prospective business relations. Defendants have filed motions for summary judgment. See ECF Nos. 81, 82. For the reasons discussed more fully below, the Court will GRANT Defendants' motions.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Summary judgment is proper if there are no issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); see also Francis v. Booz, Allen & Hamilton, Inc., 452 F.3d 299, 302 (4th Cir. 2006). A material fact is one that "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Spriggs v. Diamond Auto Glass, 242 F.3d 179, 183 (4th Cir. 2001) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A dispute of material fact is only "genuine" if sufficient evidence favoring the non-moving party exists for the trier of fact to return a verdict for that party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49. However, the nonmoving party "cannot create a genuine issue of material fact through mere speculation or the building of one inference upon another." Beale v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1986). The Court may only rely on facts supported in the record, not simply assertions in the pleadings, in order to fulfill its "affirmative obligation... to prevent factually unsupported claims or defenses' from ...