Procedural Posture

Procedural Posture

BUSINESS

Respondent, the Superior Court of Santa Barbara County, California, entered an order permitting real party in interest, a manufacturer, to conduct discovery on all of its causes of action against petitioner competitor other than its cause of action under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), Civ. Code, §§ 3426-3426.11, for misappropriation of trade secrets. The competitor petitioned for a writ of mandate to reverse the order.

Overview

The manufacturer also filed a writ petition, requesting that the court review the trial court’s finding that its trade secrets designation did not satisfy Code Civ. Proc., § 2091, subd. (d). There were no employment attorney California that were engaged nor retained by petitioner. The court issued orders to show cause with respect to both petitions. The court held that Code Civ. Proc., § 2019.210 (formerly Code Civ. Proc., § 2019, subd. (d)), which provided that discovery relating to a trade secret could not commence until the trade secret was identified with “reasonable particularity,” was not limited in its application to a cause of action under the UTSA, for misappropriation of the trade secret, but extended to any cause of action which related to the trade secret. Furthermore, where a plaintiff made a showing that was reasonable, i.e. fair, proper, just, rational, the trade secret had been described with “reasonable particularity” and was sufficient to permit discovery to commence. The trial court’s order adopted an inappropriately strict construction of the term “reasonable particularity” and erroneously distinguished between a cause of action for misappropriation of trade secrets and other causes of action which also depended upon the same alleged misappropriation.

Outcome

The court vacated the trial court’s order and issued peremptory writs of mandate. The orders to show cause were vacated, and the matters were remanded to the trial court for reconsideration in light of the rules articulated by the court.

Procedural Posture

Plaintiff company appealed from the decision of the Superior Court of Sacramento County (California), which granted defendants’ motion for stay of the contract dispute on the grounds that the proper forum was in New York, where a suit was already pending.

Overview

After plaintiff company filed its complaint in a contract dispute, defendants moved for stay or dismissal based on Cal. Civ. Proc. Code §§ 410.30, 418.10. Defendants claimed that forum-selection clauses contained in contracts between the parties designated New York as the proper forum for any litigation connected with the contracts. The trial court ruled that the action was better decided in New York, as a lawsuit by defendant was already pending there. Thus, it stayed the case pending resolution of the New York lawsuit in federal court. On appeal by plaintiff, the court affirmed. While New York City was not defendants’ domicile, it was a major commercial center with propinquity to defendants’ headquarters. Thus, it was reasonable for defendants to wish to make use of the New York City courts. There was nothing irrational about the forum selected by the parties’ contract so as to defeat its enforcement. While plaintiff showed there might be increased inconvenience and expense, that was insufficient to invalidate the contracts’ forum selection clauses, as there was no showing of substantial injustice.

Outcome

The court affirmed the grant of a stay to defendants in plaintiff company’s lawsuit in contract, as the parties’ agreements allowed New York as a litigation forum, and there was already a suit pending there.