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Freeman Inv. Mgmt. Co. v. Frank Russell Co.

United States District Court for the Southern District of California

July 30, 2015, Decided; July 30, 2015, Filed

Civil No. 13cv2856 JLS(RBB)



[ECF NOS. 49, 55]

This action has been pending in federal court since December 6, 2013, when Plaintiff Freeman Investment Management Co., LLC ("Freeman Investment") filed its initial Complaint [ECF No. 1]. Recently, on June 18, 2015, Defendant Frank Russell Company ("Russell") filed under seal a Motion to Strike Non-Compliant Trade Secret Disclosure [*2]  Under Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 2019.210 [ECF No. 49]. The Opposition of Plaintiff Freeman Investment Management Co., LLC to Motion of Defendant Frank Russell Company to Strike Trade Secret Disclosure was filed on July 9, 2015 [ECF No. 51]. Defendant timely filed a reply memorandum [ECF No. 52]. Thereafter, United States District Court Judge Janis L. Sammartino referred the motion to the undersigned [ECF No. 53]. In response to an order from this Court [ECF No. 54], Defendant Russell filed a public version of its Motion to Strike [ECF No. 55].

After reviewing the Defendant's motion, Plaintiff's opposition, and the reply, the Court has determined that the Motion to Strike is suitable for submission on the papers. See S.D. Cal. Civ. R. 7.l(d)(1). This order will cite to the public version of Russell's motion.

The Defendant's Motion to Strike must be viewed in context. On February 14, 2014, Defendant Russell filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Freeman Investment Management Co.'s Complaint [ECF No. 10]. The Defendant's motion was granted in part and denied in part. (Order, June 23, 2014, at 1, ECF No. 17.)1 The Court declined to dismiss Plaintiff's claim for misappropriation of trade secrets under the California Uniform Trade [*3]  Secrets Act. (See id. at 9-10.) More specifically, Judge Sammartino held that Plaintiff "adequately plead[ed] Russell's misappropriation of Plaintiff's trade secret information." (Id. at 10.) She observed that section 2019.210 is "widely recognized as pertaining to discovery, and not pleadings . . . ." (Id. at 9 (citing Resonance Tech., Inc. v. Koninklijke Philips Elecs., N.V., CV 08-2580 PSG (PLAX), 2008 WL 4330288, at *4 (C.D. Cal. Sept. 17, 2008)).) Yet, in its Motion to Strike, Defendant Russell urges that "[s]ection 2019.210 [of the California Code of Civil Procedure] is [s]ubstantive [l]aw and [a]pplies in [t]his action." (Def. Frank Russell Co.'s Mot. Strike 8, ECF No. 55.)

The objectives of Defendant's motion are clear. "Before discovery is permitted to proceed in a trade secrets action under California law, a trade secret plaintiff must identify all 'trade secrets' at issue with 'reasonable particularity' before that plaintiff receives any discovery related to those alleged trade secrets." (Id. at 4.) Defendant Russell complains that in the Identification of Trade Secrets Plaintiff submitted on May 15, 2015, Freeman Investment identified "used" or "disclosed" trade secrets in 492 paragraphs -- later amended to 484 paragraphs -- but it did not describe the trade secrets with reasonable particularity. [*4]  (Id. at 5.) Russell seeks an order "(1) striking Freeman's non-compliant disclosure of trade secrets under Section 2019.210; and (2) protecting Russell from discovery, including but not limited to discovery under Fed. Rules Civ. Proc. 33 and 34, unless and until Freeman makes a reasonably particular identification of trade secrets under Section 2019.210." (Id. at 5-6.) Defendant argues that "[b]ecause all of Freeman's claims arise from the same nucleus of fact as its trade secret claim, a Section 2019.210-compliant Identification is required before Freeman is entitled to any discovery." (Def. Frank Russell Co.'s Reply 9-10, ECF No. 52.)

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2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 194686 *

FREEMAN INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT CO., LLC, a Delaware corporation, Plaintiff, v. FRANK RUSSELL COMPANY, a Washington corporation dba RUSSELL INVESTMENT GROUP, Defendant.

Prior History: Freeman Inv. Mgmt. Co. v. Frank Russell Co., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 201700 (S.D. Cal., June 23, 2014)


trade secret, discovery, misappropriation, initial disclosure, identification, Disclosure, cases