On January 30, 2017, Circuit Judges Pregerson, Paez, and Tallman of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed in part the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Landmark Event Staffing Services, Inc. (“Landmark”) as to its claims for misappropriation of trade secrets under the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“CUTSA”), Cal. Civ. Code § 3426 et seq., and breach of contract, in favor of Contemporary Services Corporation (“CSC”).
CSC had asserted a CUTSA claim for misappropriation of trade secrets, alleging that Landmark acquired and used numerous CSC-created documents. The Ninth Circuit found that CSC raised material triable issues as to whether its customer lists, its deployment workbook, and its PowerPoint disclosing financial information qualify as trade secrets, and additionally found that CSC raised a triable issue as to whether Landmark unlawfully ratified an employee's misappropriation of CSC trade secrets when it failed to cease the use of the documents, disavow the employee's conduct, or terminate the employee's employment after having reason to know of the employee's misappropriation. Consequently, the Court reversed the district court’s summary judgment ruling and concluded that CSC satisfied the first two elements of a misappropriation of trade secrets claim under the CUTSA, leaving the issues of causation and damages for the district court’s consideration on remand. In light of its disposition, the Ninth Circuit also vacated the district court's award of attorneys fees to Landmark.
This decision occurred shortly after Fulwider Patton's victory in another Ninth Circuit decision, Caltex Plastics, Inc. v. Elkay Plastics Company, Inc., which affirmed the trial court's decision summarized here.