Employer Not Liable For Employee’s Alleged Theft Of Trade Secrets From Prior Employer

A judge in the Massachusetts Superior Court Business Litigation has dismissed claims brought against an employer arising out of a new employee’s alleged theft of trade secrets from his former employer, finding that the new employer had no knowledge of our encouraged any use of the allegedly stolen material.

Massachusetts Superior Court

SUMMARY: (court decision – opens in PDF)

“Plaintiff Western Air Charter, Inc., d/b/a Jet Edge (‘Jet Edge’), commenced this action against its former employee, Darryn Mackenzie (‘Mackenzie’), and his new employer, Exclusive Jets, LLC, d/b/a flyExclusive (‘flyExclusive’), alleging that Mackenzie breached certain employment agreements he had with Jet Edge and stole its trade secrets, proprietary, and confidential information prior to leaving his employment. Jet Edge further alleges that flyExclusive ‘is actively inducing and acting in concert’ with Mackenzie in using the allegedly stolen information for flyExclusive’s benefit. …

“In April 2022, Mackenzie emailed the owner of flyExclusive, Jim Segrave (‘Segrave’), expressing an interest in working there. …

“Central to and implicit in all its claims against flyExclusive, is Jet Edge’s allegation that flyExclusive knew about, and was acting in support of and in concert with, Mackenzie to use the allegedly stolen material to flyExclusive’s advantage. However, the allegation is unsupported by the record. The email correspondence cited supra indicates that Mackenzie solicited Segrave, and sought employment at flyExclusive, not the other way around. Nowhere in the emails exchanged does Segrave ask or hint to Mackenzie that he should bring Jet Edge’s confidential material to flyExclusive. Moreover, even an inferred directive to do so would be implausible where the parties’ later correspondence makes clear that flyExclusive had a business association with Jet Edge that it did not want to jeopardize. In that correspondence, flyExclusive denies knowledge of Mackenzie’s actions, and indicates the actions it is taking to scrub any Jet Edge proprietary material from its systems, citing at length the parties’ business association. The complaint, drafted after this correspondence, provides no factual support for Jet Edge’s claim that flyExclusive had knowledge of or encouraged Mackenzie’s actions, including only the conclusory statement that they were ‘acting in concert.’ … Under these circumstances, Jet Edge’s causes of action against flyExclusive necessarily fail.”



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