Discovery, Trade Secrets & Reasonable Necessity

A new case out of Florida’s First District Court of Appeals reaffirms the protection of a non-party’s trade secrets during the discovery process.

Defendant Robert William Greer, Jr. requested that non-party, Laser Spine Institute, LLC (LSI), produce billing and collection documents to prove the reasonableness of charges for the medical services LSI provided to Clara Doucette, one of the plaintiffs. However, it was undisputed that the documents in question contained trade secrets. The trial court ordered LSI to produce the documents subject to a confidentiality agreement to be signed by Mr. Greer and LSI.

LSI challenged the finding, arguing that the trial court strayed from the key requirements of evidence law by ordering the production of the documents without making any findings to demonstrate that Mr. Greer’s “reasonable necessity” for the documents outweighed LSI’s interest in keeping its trade secrets confidential.

The First District Court of Appeals agreed with LSI, and reversed the trial court’s decision. Citing Virginia Electronics & Lighting Corp. v. Koester[1] and Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. v. Cabrera[2], the First District Court of Appeals concluded that despite the prerequisite of a confidentiality agreement between LSI and Mr. Greer, the trial court had failed to adhere to the fundamental requirements of evidence law. Essentially, the trial court erred by failing to make a specific finding that the requesting party had demonstrated a reasonable necessity for the document’s production that offset the disclosing party’s interest in maintaining the confidentiality of its trade secrets.

This case is Laser Spin Institute, LLC v. Greer, 1D14–1134, 2014 WL 3865840 (Fla. 1st DCA 2014).

[1] Virginia Electronics & Lighting Corp. v. Koester, 714 So.2d. 1164, 1165 (Fla. 1st DCA 1998)

[2] Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. v. Cabrera, 112 So.3d 731, 733 (Fla. 3d DCA 2013)

Jonathan Pollard is a trial lawyer and litigator based on Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He focuses his practice on defending non-compete and trade secret claims. Jonathan routinely represents doctors, corporate executives and other high level employees who are switching companies, or, who have started their own ventures. Beyond litigation, Jonathan advises employees, companies and business owners regarding restrictive covenant issues in connection with employment contracts, separation agreements, hiring decisions, the purchase or sale of business interests and the execution of commercial leases. Jonathan has been interviewed about non-compete issues by reporters from INC Magazine, the BBC, the National Federation of Independent Business and The Tampa Bay Times. In addition to his background in non-compete and trade secrets work, Jonathan has broad experience as a competition lawyer, generally, and has litigated numerous cases under both the Sherman and Lanham Acts. He is licensed in all Florida federal and state courts and routinely represents clients in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Fort Myers, Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville. His office can be reached at 954-332-2380.  For more information, visit http://www.pollardllc.com.

 

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