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Summary judgment is appropriate only when no genuine issue of material fact exists and when the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). This court must view the facts contained in the record and draw all inferences from the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. The appellate court cannot weigh the evidence or determine the truth of any matter in dispute, because the court determines only whether the case contains sufficient evidence from which a jury could reasonably find for the nonmoving party. If the moving party fulfills its burden of demonstrating that no genuine issue of material fact exists, the nonmoving party, to receive a trial, must present some significant probative evidence creating a factual issue.
Plaintiff Dr. Alexander Stratienko had submitted a patent application for a sheath catheter. He shared that design with defendant Cordis Corporation, and sent a letter and nondisclosure agreement to the defendant. Alleging that the defendant misappropriated, converted, and wrongfully benefitted from his ideas, breached the nondisclosure agreement, and committed theft of a trade secret under Tennessee's Uniform Trade Secret Act, Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 47-25-1701 through 1709, plaintiff brought the present federal diversity suit against defendant. The district court granted summary judgment to defendant. Plaintiff challenged the decision.
Under the circumstances, did the district court err in granting summary judgment to the defendant?
The appellate court affirmed the district court’s decision, noting that the plaintiff had not presented sufficient circumstantial evidence of similarity to withstand summary judgment. Because the plaintiff had not presented sufficient evidence to establish that there was any genuine issue of material fact as to use, summary judgment was proper on the claims for misappropriation, wrongful benefit, and breach of contract. Addressing the issue of conversion, the appellate court found that Tennessee law did not recognize a cause of action for conversion of trade secrets.