Conveyor Solutions, LLC v. R&R Design & Manufacturing, Inc., 091912 OHSCCP, A1108744
|Opinion Judge:||Beth A. Myers, Judge|
|Party Name:||CONVEYOR SOLUTIONS, LLC, Plaintiff, v. R&R DESIGN & MANUFACTURING, INC. et al. Defendant.|
|Case Date:||September 19, 2013|
|Court:||Court of Common Pleas of Ohio, Hamilton County|
This case is before the Court on: 1) Defendant Brinck's Motion for Summary Judgment; 2) Defendants Thompson and R&R Design & Manufacturing's ("R&R") Motion for Summary Judgment; and 3) Third Party Defendants Doerflien and Hillgrove's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons discussed below, Defendant Brinck's motion for summary judgment is denied. Defendants Thompson and R&R's motion is denied. Third Party Defendants Doerflein and Hillgrove's motion is granted in part and denied in part.
Summary judgment is appropriate when there are no genuine issues of material fact that remain to be litigated and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Civ. R. 56(C); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986). Summary judgment should be granted if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, written admissions, affidavits, transcripts of evidence in the pending case, if any, timely filed in the action and construed most strongly in favor of the non-moving party, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact. Civ. R. 56(C). The burden of establishing that the material facts are not in dispute, and that no genuine issue of fact exists, is on the party moving for summary judgment. Vahila v. Hall, 77 Ohio St.3d 421, 674 N.E.2d 1164 (1997). If the moving party asserts that there is an absence of evidence to establish an essential element of the non-moving party's claim, the moving party cannot discharge this burden with a conclusory allegation, but must specifically point to some part of the record which affirmatively demonstrates this absence of evidence. Dresher v. Burt, 75 Ohio St.3d 280, 662 N.E.2d 264 (1996).
The Ohio Supreme Court has established three factors to be considered upon a motion for summary judgment. These three factors are:
(1) That there is no genuine issue as to any material fact; (2) that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law; and (3) that reasonable minds can come to but one conclusion, and that the conclusion is adverse to the party against whom the motion for summary judgment is made, who is entitled to have the evidence construed most strongly in his favor.
Once a motion for summary judgment has been made and supported as provided in Civ. R. 56(C), the nonmoving party then has a reciprocal burden to set forth specific evidentiary facts showing the existence of a genuine issue for trial and cannot rest on the allegations or denials in the pleadings. Wing v. Anchor Media, Lid. Of Texas, 59 Ohio St.3d 108, 111, 570 N.E.2d 1095 (1991).
STATEMENT OF FACTS
Defendant Brinck and Third Party Defendants Doerflein and Hillgrove formed Plaintiff Conveyor Solutions ("Conveyor") in 2001. Brinck, Doerflein and Hillgrove signed an Operating Agreement. Defendant Thompson worked on projects on behalf of Conveyor as an independent contractor.
In August of 2011, Doerflein and Hillgrove discovered a document on Brinck's computer that indicated Brinck was considering leaving Conveyor to join Thompson's newly formed business, R&R. Doerflein and Hillgrove confronted Brinck, but ultimately allowed Brinck to continue to work on his projects at Conveyor.
In October, Brinck traveled to Illinois to meet with a representative of Sara Lee about a potential project called Project Express. Brinck attended this meeting as an member of Conveyor, and the trip was paid for with Conveyor funds. Brinck did not prepare a quote for the project on behalf of Conveyor. In November, Brinck sent his partners an email about leaving the company and possible buyout options. The same day Brinck sent his email, Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit and Brinck was locked out of the business.
Brinck later submitted a bid for the Project Express job on behalf of R&R. R&R was awarded the bid and a purchase order was issued. Dennis Davis of Sara Lee testified in his June 26, 2012 deposition that the purchase order was later revoked due to the pending litigation.
Plaintiff brings claims of misappropriation of trade secrets and toritious interference with a business relationship against Defendants Brinck, Thompson, and R&R. Plaintiff also brings a claim for breach of fiduciary duty against Defendant Brinck.
Defendant Brinck brings claims for breach of the Operating Agreement and tortious interference with business relationships against Plaintiff and Third Party Defendants Doerflein and Hillgrove. Defendant Brinck also brings claims of breach of fiduciary duty and conversion against Defendants Doerflein and Hillgrove.
I. Defendant Brinck's Motion for Summary Judgment
Defendant Brinck seeks summary judgment on Plaintiffs claims of misappropriation of trade secrets, tortuous interference with business relationships and breach of fiduciary duty.
a. Misapproriation of Trade Secrets
Ohio law protects an employer's right to keep its trade secrets from misappropriation and disclosure. R.C. 1333.61. R.C. 1333.61(D) defines trade secrets as:
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