United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
TOTAL SAFETY U.S., INC., et al.
CODE RED SAFETY & RENTAL, LLC, et al.
ORDER AND REASONS
L. C. FELDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is the defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss the plaintiffs' complaint. For the reasons that
follow, the motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
litigation arises from trade secrets Todd Meyer allegedly
stole from his former employer, Total Safety, after he
abruptly resigned and joined a competitor. Total Safety sued
Meyer and the competitor -- a company called Code Red -- for
misappropriation of trade secrets. Code Red seeks an
on-the-pleadings dismissal; its Rule 12(b)(6) motion presents
one principal question: Has Total Safety plausibly alleged
that Code Red misappropriated its trade secrets? It has.
Safety U.S. provides integrated industrial safety services to
the petrochemical industry. It acquired another national
safety service provider, Airgas On-Site Safety Services, in
summer 2019. The company then changed its name to Total
Safety On-Site Safety Services. The parties call this company
“Total Safety, ” and the Court does the same.
than one month after the acquisition, several of the
company's senior employees left to join a competitor --
Code Red.Total Safety says these employees
“secretly prepared” to join Code Red by
“arming themselves” with Total Safety's trade
secrets before leaving the company. Todd Meyer was allegedly
one such employee.
Safety hired Meyer as a safety sales specialist in May 2014.
During his employment, Meyer had access to Total Safety's
trade secrets and confidential information, including: (1)
Total Safety's products, services, finances, marketing
plans, suppliers, and price quotes; (2) the context of Total
Safety's contracts with customers; (3) quotes to
customers; (4) details about customer needs; and (5) the
names of trusted vendors.
left Total Safety in June 2019. One month before leaving, he
emailed a competitor (not Code Red) to “explore
employment opportunities.” In the message, Meyer
expressed his intent to bring his “book of
business” to the competitor. Around the same time, he
plugged an external storage device into his work computer and
accessed folders containing Total Safety's trade secrets.
He did not return the device when he left Total Safety.
allegedly copied, disclosed, and used Total Safety's
trade secrets with Code Red's “approval.”
After leaving Total Safety, he continued misappropriating
trade secrets “in coordination with” Code Red.
Code Red, too, “misappropriated” and
“used” Total Safety's trade secrets. Code Red
did so, Total Safety says, even though Code Red knew or had
reason to know that the trade secrets “derived from
Meyer[, ] who used improper means to acquire” them.
Meyer and Code Red have allegedly used Total Safety's
trade secrets to “solicit and induce” customers
to transfer their business to Code Red, causing Total Safety
“irreparable harm, injuries, and damages.” Total
Safety sued Code Red for misappropriating its trade secrets,
invoking assorted provisions of federal and Louisiana law.
Total Safety alleges claims for (1) violations of the Defend
Trade Secrets Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1836(b)(1); (2)
violations of the Louisiana Uniform Trade Secrets Act, La.
Rev. Stat. §§ 51:1431 - 51:1439; (3) violations of
the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act, La. Rev. Stat.
§§ 51:1401 - 51:1430; (4) conversion; (5) unjust
enrichment; and (6) civil conspiracy.
Code Red moves to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). It reasons as
follows: all of Total Safety's claims against it hinge on
its alleged misappropriation of trade secrets; Total Safety
has not adequately alleged that it misappropriated any trade
secrets; so, Total Safety has not alleged any plausible
claims against it. Total Safety disagrees. It rejoins that it
has stated plausible claims and casts Code Red's motion
as a challenge to the merits of its claims, not the
sufficiency of its allegations.
complaint must contain a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A party may move for dismissal of a
complaint that fails this requirement. See
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Such motions are rarely granted
because they are viewed with disfavor. Leal v.
McHugh, 731 F.3d 405, 410 (5th Cir. 2013) (quoting
Turner v. Pleasant, 663 F.3d 770, 775 (5th Cir.
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court
“accept[s] all well-pleaded facts as true and view[s]
all facts in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff.” Thompson v. City of Waco, Tex.,
764 F.3d 500, 502 (5th Cir. 2014) (citing Doe ex rel.
Magee v. Covington Cty. Sch. Dist. ex rel. Keys, 675
F.3d 849, 854 (5th Cir. 2012) (en banc)). Conclusory
allegations are not well pleaded and, consequently, are not
accepted as true. See Thompson, 764 F.3d at 502-03
(citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
overcome a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “‘a complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Gonzalez v. Kay, 577 F.3d 600, 603
(5th Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). A
claim is facially plausible if it contains “factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does
not need detailed factual allegations[.]” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). But it must
contain “more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of a cause of action's elements will
not do.” Id. at 555. Ultimately, the
Court's task is “to determine whether the plaintiff
stated a legally cognizable claim that is plausible, not to
evaluate the plaintiff's likelihood of success.”
Thompson, 764 F.3d at 503 (citation omitted).
Red first contends that Total Safety's claims are
deficiently pleaded because Total Safety has not alleged that
it “misappropriated” any trade secrets. The Court
Defend Trade Secrets Act grants the “owner of a trade
secret that is misappropriated” the right to bring a
civil action “if the trade secret is related to a
product or service used in, or intended for use in,
interstate or foreign commerce.” 18 U.S.C. §
1836(b)(1). The Louisiana Uniform Trade Secrets Act,
similarly, creates a claim for “damages for the actual
loss caused by misappropriation” of a trade secret. La.
Rev. Stat. § 51:1433.
plead a plausible claim under the Defend Trade Secrets Act,
Total Safety must allege that: (1) it owns a trade secret;
(2) the trade secret was misappropriated by Code Red; and (3)
the trade secret is related to a product or service used or
intended for use in interstate or foreign commerce.
See 18 U.S.C. § 1836(b)(1). Stating a Louisiana
Uniform Trade Secrets Act ...