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Llw Enter. v. Ryan

United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division

May 4, 2020, Decided; May 4, 2020, Filed

Case No: 8:19-cv-1641-T-35AAS

Opinion

ORDER

THIS CAUSE comes before the Court for consideration of the Motion to Dismiss or alternatively Motion to Transfer Venue to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania filed by Defendants, Ronny Tang Sip Shiong; Joshua Johnston; Nightscaping, LLC; Corelight Holdings, LLC; SCI Powertech LLC; Sidera LLC; Lighthouse Manufacturing and Distribution, LLC; and Lighthouse Franchise Systems, LLC,1 (Dkt. 19), Plaintiffs' amended response in opposition, (Dkt. 33), Defendants' reply in support of their motion to dismiss, (Dkt. 37), and Plaintiffs' sur-reply, (Dkt. 40). Also pending are Defendant Tim Ryan's Motion to Dismiss Counts 17, 18, 22 and 23, (Dkt. 22), and Plaintiffs' response in opposition. (Dkt. 25) The parties [*2]  have filed declarations and deposition excerpts in support of their respective positions.2 See (Dkts. 20, 27, 32, 36, 41) Upon consideration of all relevant filings, case law, and being otherwise fully advised, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction or, alternatively, to transfer venue, (Dkt. 19), and GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Ryan's Motion to Dismiss, (Dkt. 22), as set forth below.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs, LLW Enterprise, LLC (LLW) and Volt, LLC (Volt) (collectively Plaintiffs) are Florida limited liability companies that manufacture and sell high-quality outdoor lighting products to homeowners via an online store. (Dkt. 1 at ¶¶ 2, 8) Plaintiffs allege their "confidential, proprietary and trade secret information has substantial value in the outdoor lighting industry and disclosure of the information to outsiders would cause irreparable harm to Plaintiffs' business as well as extensive money damages." (Id. at ¶ 12)

To further expand their business, Plaintiffs decided to create a separate product line, branding, and website (named AMP) targeted [*3]  to professional installers. (Id. at ¶ 13) To this end, in 2013, Plaintiffs hired Defendant Tim Ryan (Ryan), an Indiana citizen and professional outdoor lighting installer, to serve as Plaintiffs' national sales consultant for a professional product line marketed to installers. (Id. at ¶¶ 3a, 13, 14) While working for Plaintiffs, Ryan was exposed to the inner workings of Plaintiffs' new niche market, including confidential plans to develop a new product line, branding strategy, and an e-commerce store targeted to professionals. (Id. at ¶ 15) Ryan became the ambassador for Plaintiffs' products, appearing in training videos and promotions on Plaintiffs' high-traffic e-commerce website. (Id.) Around the same time Ryan was hired, Plaintiffs also hired Ty Russum (Russum), a Florida resident, to head their marketing and e-commerce efforts. (Id. at ¶ 16) Russum was responsible for website design and maintenance, website customer experience, search engine optimization, analytics, managing and developing new internet channels, and developing marketing campaigns using confidential analytics and unique business methods disclosed to Russum by Plaintiffs for the purposes of Russum carrying out his [*4]  job duties. (Id.) Prior to his employment by Plaintiffs, Russum had no prior experience in the outdoor lighting industry, but once he started working for Plaintiffs, he received valuable and confidential know-how that was not available anywhere else in the industry. (Id. at ¶ 17)

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2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92303 *

LLW ENTERPRISE, LLC, and VOLT, LLC, Plaintiffs, v. TIM RYAN; RONNY TANG SIP SHIONG; JOSHUA JOHNSTON; NIGHTSCAPING, LLC; CORELIGHT HOLDINGS, LLC; SCI POWERTECH, LLC; SIDERA LLC; LIGHTHOUSE MANUFACTURING AND DISTRIBUTION, LLC; and LIGHTHOUSE FRANCHISE SYSTEMS, LLC, Defendants.

CORE TERMS

Defendants', website, personal jurisdiction, venue, motion to dismiss, trademark, allegations, email, confidential information, compete, restrictive covenant, lighting, aiding and abetting, cause of action, unfair, Additionally, declaration, consumers, deceptive, tortious act, misappropriation, confidential, convenience, covenants, contacts, products, hired, unfair competition, injunctive relief, actual damage