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Mkts. Grp. Inc. v. Pablo Oliveira

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

February 3, 2020, Decided; February 3, 2020, Filed

18 Civ. 2089 (GHW) (RWL)

Opinion

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION TO HON. GREGORY H. WOODS: SUMMARY JUDGMENT

ROBERT W. LEHRBURGER, United States Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Markets Group, Inc. ("Plaintiff" or "Markets") filed this action for breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets against Defendant Pablo Oliveira ("Defendant" or "Oliveira"), Plaintiff's former employee. Presently before this Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment, which seeks dismissal of all claims. (Dkt. 58). For the reasons that follow, this Court recommends that Defendant's motion be GRANTED and Plaintiff's case be dismissed in its entirety.

Factual Background

Markets is an "executive forum provider" that organizes conferences both domestically and internationally. Markets issued a letter offer of employment to Oliveira on January 18, 2013, which he signed approximately five days later.1 (Complaint ¶ 4; Dkt. 48-1 ¶ 5; Dkt. [*2]  49-3 (the "Letter Agreement").) In the Letter Agreement, Markets stated that Oliveira was being hired as an "Associate," that his compensation would be $10.00 per hour, and that he would be eligible to receive "annual discretionary incentive bonuses" at Markets' discretion. (Dkt. 49-3 at 1.) The Letter Agreement also listed certain "covenants" that employees entered into upon signing the offer of employment. These included a "non-solicitation of clients and contacts" covenant and a "non-competition" covenant. (Id. at 4.) The Letter Agreement further stated that employees are subject to a "duty of confidentiality" with respect to "trade secrets and confidential and proprietary information" encountered during employment. (Id. at 2-5.) The term "confidential and proprietary information" is defined in the Letter Agreement to include, among other things, "[a]ny and all trade secrets" and "[c]lient and contact lists of [Markets] and its affiliated entities." (Dkt. 49-3 at 3.)

Oliveira worked for Markets as an Associate from January 2013 through September 2016. (Defendant's Undisputed Statement of Material Facts Pursuant to Local Rule 56.1 ("Defendant's 56.1 Statement") (Dkt. 57) at ¶ 11.) Oliveira's responsibilities included [*3]  "[b]uilding Excel lists, cold calling, researching online to find names and people" and selling life insurance. (Dkt. 61-6 at 8:13-24; 16:5.) The Excel lists consisted of "leads, people, companies" to whom Markets could sell insurance. Both Markets and Oliveira refer to these Excel spreadsheets as "customer lists." (Defendant's 56.1 Statement ¶ 14; Deposition of Timothy John Raleigh ("TJR Depo.") (Dkt. 61-4) at 71:18-21; Deposition of Adam James Raleigh ("AJR Depo.") (Dkt. 61-5) at 68:3-10.)

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2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20709 *; 2020 WL 820654

MARKETS GROUP, INC., Plaintiff, - against - PABLO OLIVEIRA, Defendant.

Subsequent History: Adopted by, Summary judgment granted by Mkts. Grp., Inc. v. Oliveira, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28156 (S.D.N.Y., Feb. 19, 2020)

CORE TERMS

trade secret, customer, customer list, restrictive covenant, discovery, lists, emails, non-solicitation, misappropriation of trade secrets, confidential, summary judgment, soliciting, employees, summary judgment motion, covenant, geographic, genuine, material fact, competitors, grant summary judgment, legitimate interest, non-competition, argues, courts, additional discovery, admissible evidence, cell phone, misappropriation, allegations, deposition