United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
W. Grimm United States District Judge.
case, though still in its early stages, has had a tortuous
history. It began in December 2017, when Paradyme Management,
Inc. ("Paradyme"), a Washington, D.C.-based
consulting firm, filed a complaint against its former
director of corporate operations, Mary Ellen Curto, accusing
her of improperly accessing and retaining confidential work
documents. Compl., ECF No. 1. What followed, after I granted
Paradyme's motion for a preliminary injunction,
see ECF No.9, was a series of spats and other
digressions that delayed the resolution of this case by more
than a year.
fall, in an attempt to steer these proceedings back onto
course, I ordered Ms. Curto to file her long-overdue answer
to Paradyme's Complaint or, alternatively, a motion to
dismiss the case. See ECF Nos. 97, 98. Ms. Curto,
who is representing herself in this suit, did neither. She
did, however, explain that she had intended for a document
she filed in January 2018 - a document misleadingy titled
"Motion to Dismiss Temporary Restraining Order" -
to constitute "her response to [Paradymes]] original
filing." ECF No. 99. Noting that I had not previously
had occasion to rule on that motion, as it had previously
been withdrawn as moot, I announced that I would construe it
as a motion to dismiss the Complaint and directed the parties
to submit further briefing on the motion. See ECF
with this Memorandum Opinion and Order, I concern myself only
with Ms. Curto's motion and the memoranda of law the
parties have filed in support of or opposition to it. Upon
review, I conclude that Ms. Curto is not entitled to a
dismissal at this stage of the proceeding.. Her motion is
denied, and the case will proceed.
Curto's motion, as construed in this Court's November
20, 2018 letter order, challenges the sufficiency of
Paradyme's Complaint. See ECF No. 101. Before
proceeding to consider her arguments, it is appropriate to
recount the allegations Paradyme has raised in that pleading.
I stress that, at this stage of the proceedings, I must take
those allegations as true. See McCready v. Blue Shield of
Va., 649 F.2d 228, 230 (4th Cir. 1981).
traces this dispute to the moment in June 2017 when it
offered to hire Ms. Curto as its director of corporate
operations. Compl. ¶ 9. The offer letter, noting that
Ms. Curto would have access to "highly confidential and
sensitive" information, required her, as a condition of
employment, to sign an "Employee Non-Dislosure,
Non-Compete, and Non-Solicitation Agreement" (the
"Agreement"). Id. Ms. Curto both accepted
the offer and signed the Agreement on June 20, 2017. See
Id. ¶ 10.
Agreement contained at least four provisions of relevance to
this case. The first of these was a nondisclosure provision,
which bound Ms. Curto to refrain from
us[ing] for [her] own benefit or for the benefit of others,
or disclos[ing] or divulg[ing] to others, in any manner
whatsoever, any Proprietary and/or Confidential Information,
except as expressly authorized by [Paradyme] in the course of
[her] employment with [Paradyme], and except as may be
required by law or legal process as provided hereafter.
second provision similarly sought to shield Paradyme
documents from broader dissemination. That provision stated:
All Work Product shall be and remain the sole property of
[Paradyme] or its Client (as agreed upon between [Paradyme]
and its Client, hereinafter "Owner") and, without
the written consent of Owner, shall not be copied or
reproduced or removed from the premises of Owner, except as
required in connection with the performance of [Ms.
Curto's] work for [Paradyme].
Id. ¶ 20.
provision required Ms. Curto, upon termination, to return
"all materials that contain, refer or relate to Work
Product, Intellectual Property, and Proprietary and/or
Confidential Information (whether in written, tangible,
electronic or any other form." Id. ¶ 21.
The provision explicitly barred her from retaining originals
or copies of any such documents. See id.
fourth and final pertinent provision entitled the company to
seek injunctive relief should Ms. Curto breach the Agreement.
Curto started working for Paradyme on July 10, 2017. See
Id. ¶ 11. As director of corporate operations, she
had access to all electronic files the company stored in the
"Corporate Support" folder on Google Drive, a cloud
computing service allowing account holders to share files.
See Id. ¶¶ 12-16. This folder held a wide
range of documents, including finance and accounting forms,
contracts, internal Paradyme communication, request for
proposal ("RFP") responses, and administrative
forms. See Id. ¶ 17. Some of these documents,