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Hunters Run Gun Club, LLC v. Baker

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

July 9, 2019

HUNTERS RUN GUN CLUB, LLC, ET AL.
v.
EDDIE D. BAKER

          RULING

          CHIEF JUDGE SHELLY D. DICK JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Joint Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on 18 U.S.C. § 1832 Claim[1] filed by Defendants, Eddie D. Baker, Sugar-West, Inc., Bridgeview Gun Club, LLC, and Keith Morris (collectively, “Defendants”). Plaintiffs, Hunters Run Gun Club, LLC and Great International Land Company, LLC, (“Plaintiffs”) have filed Oppositions[2] to the motion.

         The factual background of this case was reviewed by the Court in a previous Ruling[3] and will not be reiterated herein.

         Although Plaintiffs have asserted a cause of action under the Defense Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) of 2016, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 1836, for misappropriation of trade secrets, [4] the present motion seeks to dismiss a purported claim brought under 18 U.S.C. § 1832, entitled “Theft of trade secrets, ” which is a criminal statute. While the Parties dispute the framework under which Plaintiffs must prove its trade secret claim, there is no dispute that Plaintiffs bear the burden of demonstrating the existence of a trade secret.

         A “trade secret” under the DTSA includes scientific and technical information that “the owner thereof has taken reasonable measures to keep ... secret” and “derives independent economic value ... from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable through proper means by, another person who can obtain economic value from the disclosure or use of the information.”[5] The Fifth Circuit has held that “[a] trade secret ‘is one of the most elusive and difficult concepts in the law to define.'”[6] “Whether something is a trade secret is a question of fact.”[7] “[T]he question of whether certain information constitutes a trade secret ordinarily is best ‘resolved by a fact finder after full presentation of evidence from each side.'”[8] Moreover, “[t]he efforts required to maintain secrecy are those reasonable under the circumstances, and courts do not require extreme and unduly expensive procedures to be taken to protect trade secrets.”[9]

         The DTSA defines “misappropriation” as:

(A) acquisition of a trade secret of another by a person who knows or has reason to know that the trade secret was acquired by improper means; or
(B) disclosure or use of a trade secret of another without express or implied consent by a person who -
(i) used improper means to acquire knowledge of the trade secret;
(ii) at the time of disclosure or use, knew or had reason to know that the knowledge of the trade secret was -
(I) derived from or through a person who had used improper means to acquire the trade secret;
(II) acquired under circumstances giving rise to a duty to maintain the secrecy of the trade secret or limit the use of the trade secret; or
(III) derived from or through a person who owed a duty to the person seeking relief to maintain the secrecy of the trade secret or ...

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