Dechert Achieves Comprehensive Trial Victory for DLL

Dechert has achieved a comprehensive and dramatic trial victory for its client DLL in a Pennsylvania state court case arising from a former executive’s misappropriation of trade secrets and violation of contractual obligations upon his separation from the company.

The eight member jury delivered its verdict on October 22, 2018, after a six-day trial in which top DLL executives and an outside computer forensic expert testified. The Dechert team argued that DLL took appropriate and forceful action to protect its proprietary and confidential business information because of the importance it places on maintaining the confidentiality of its customer and employee information and trade secrets. Although companies are sometimes reluctant to pursue claims against individuals, DLL pressed its claims in this instance because the former executive took DLL information with him to a new employer—despite having contractual obligations to return it—and also subsequently accessed DLL’s computer system using a then current DLL employee’s company issued laptop in an effort to obtain additional information.

DLL commenced this lawsuit in May 2013 in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas to determine the extent to which the former executive and others had illegally accessed DLL’s computer system and also to recover its severance payments. Through discovery and a forensic computer investigation, DLL learned that the former executive had also taken other DLL information with him upon his departure. The disclosure of these violations prompted his new employer to terminate his employment.
The former executive filed three counterclaims against DLL alleging that, via a website statement about the lawsuit and subsequent coverage by the industry press, DLL had defamed him, breached his severance agreement’s non-disparagement clause, and tortiously interfered with both his contract at his new employer and any future relationships he might have had with prospective employers. The jury remained unconvinced by these allegations and rejected each of the counterclaims.

The jury verdict vindicated DLL’s position, awarding it wins against the defendant on all three of its claims—misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of the severance agreement, and conversion—resulting in an award of more than US$500,000 for DLL. DLL is also eligible for its attorneys’ fees and expert costs in this matter based on a Pennsylvania statute and a contractual fee-shifting provision.

The Dechert team was led by partner Steven Bizar, and included associate Roger Dixon and paralegal Tiffany Lewis.

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