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Anaqua, Inc. v. Bullard

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

May 11, 2015

Anaqua, Inc., Plaintiff,
v.
Mark Bullard, Defendant,

Submitted: April 20, 2015

THIRD PARTY LECORPIO, LLC'S MOTION TO QUASH PLAINTIFF'S OUT-OF-STATE SUBPOENA IS GRANTED IN PART.

Theodore A. Kittila, Esq., Greenhill Law Group, LLC., 1000 N. West Street, Suite 1200., Wilmington, DE, 19801. Attorney for Anaqua.

Sharon Oras Morgan, Esq., Kasey H. DeSantis, Esq., Fox Rothschild, LLP., 919 N. Market Street, Suite 300, Wilmington DE, 19801. Attorneys for Third-Party Lecorpio.

ORDER

BRADLEY V. MANNING, Commissioner

Before the Court is Third-Party Lecorpio's Motion to Quash portions of Plaintiff Anaqua's out-of-state subpoena. Lecorpio argues that Anaqua's subpoena improperly seeks to obtain confidential trade secret information of Lecorpio.

Facts and Procedural History

The genesis of this litigation is defendant Mark Bullard's previous employment with Plaintiff, Anaqua, in Massachusetts. Bullard is now an employee of Lecorpio, a Delaware LLC., with its headquarters and principal place of business in California. Anaqua and Lecorpio are direct competitors in the esoteric field of intellectual property asset management software ("IP Systems")-hence the rub.

The parties do not dispute the basic facts of the case thus far. Bullard worked for Anaqua as Vice President of Sales and served on its executive team starting in 2008. At the time Bullard was hired he signed a standard confidentially agreement and a worldwide twelve (12) month non-competition and non-disclosure agreement that would take effect upon termination of his employment with Anaqua, whether voluntary or otherwise. On September 20, 2013, Bullard terminated his employment with Anaqua, ostensibly to take time off to write a book, which he apparently did.[1]

On May 1, 2014, Lecorpio issued a press release stating that Bullard had joined Lecorpio's team as Vice President of product management and that he had previously been Vice President of sales for Anaqua. Undoubtedly surprised, Anaqua filed suit against Bullard and Lecorpio in the Superior Court for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on May 6, 2014. Anaqua alleged two counts of breach of contract by Bullard, one for competition and one for trade secrets. Anaqua also alleged one count of tortious interference with contractual relations by Lecorpio. Anaqua claimed that Lecorpio knew of Bullard's non-competition clause but hired him anyway, going so far as to agree to indemnify him from any claims by Anaqua. Litigation ensued, and on July 24, 2014, Lecorpio was dismissed from the Massachusetts action for lack of personal jurisdiction. Bullard, however, was preliminarily enjoined from employment with Lecorpio for a period of 150 days (the balance of the 12 month non-competition clause), required to post a security bond with the court in the sum of $150, 000.00, and ordered not to disclose or provide to Lecorpio, or others, any confidential information and/or trade secrets of Anaqua.[2] On the same day, the Massachusetts Court also entered an Order for a protective order and expedited discovery by way of document production and depositions, including Bullard himself.

On or about October 2, 2014, counsel for Anaqua deposed Bullard-to an extent. Bullard produced one single page in response to the document production request. Bullard claimed that much of what Anaqua sought was on his company (i.e. Lecorpio's) laptop computer and he could not (or would not) access it. Unhappy with Bullard's obstreperous responses, Massachusetts counsel for Anaqua sought relief with the Massachusetts Superior Court. No longer having personal jurisdiction over Lecorpio to compel cooperation with the subpoena, Anaqua sought, as was granted, an Order of Commission by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Order of Commission, issued pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 223A § 10(a)(2), authorized "the appropriate judicial authority in the State of Delaware to issue a subpoena" to Lecorpio's registered agent for service in Delaware. The Order of Commission was filed in the New Castle County Superior Court on October 30, 2014 and an out-of-state Subpoena duces tecum was issued to Lecorpio pursuant to 10 Del. C. § 4311.[3] On November 19, 2014, Lecorpio filed its Objections to Plaintiff's Out-of-State Subpoena. By December 5, 2014, Lecorpio's objections had morphed into a full-blown Motion to Quash Anaqua's Out-of-State Subpoena and thus this Court's involvement in the litigation.

In the interim, Anaqua served Bullard and Lecorpio a cease and desist letter on May 19, 2014. In response, Bullard marched into court in California, his new state of residence, and filed suit against Anaqua seeking declaratory relief from the noncompetition contract. On December 24, 2014, the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, issued an Order declaring that the non-competition agreement between Bullard and Anaqua, and the choice of law provision in the contact, was unenforceable and void as a matter of California law.[4]

Back in Delaware, Lecorpio now moves to quash the following deposition topics and document production requests ...


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