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Sasco v. Rosendin Electric

July 11, 2012

SASCO, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLANT,
v.
ROSENDIN ELECTRIC, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND RESPONDENTS.



Appeal from a postjudgment order of the Superior Court of Orange County, Charles Margines, Judge. (Super. Ct. No. 30-2008-00110031)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ikola, J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Affirmed.

Plaintiff SASCO appeals a postjudgment order awarding defendants*fn1 $484,943.46 in attorney fees and costs pursuant to Civil Code section 3426.4 (section 3426.4). We affirm. The trial court applied the correct interpretation of section 3426.4 and did not abuse its discretion in finding "bad faith" on the part of SASCO in bringing its trade secret misappropriation claim against defendants.

FACTS

Allegations in Complaint

SASCO filed its complaint on July 31, 2008. We briefly describe the factual allegations contained therein, specifying where SASCO made allegations based upon information and belief.

SASCO and defendant Rosendin are licensed electrical contractors doing business in the State of California. Individual defendants Fitzsimmons, Thompson, and Woodworth worked for SASCO in senior management positions until the fall of 2006. Individual defendants each signed nondisclosure agreements with SASCO. Each of the individual defendants resigned from SASCO and joined Rosendin on different dates in October and November 2006.

Woodworth was aware of an opportunity being pursued by SASCO known as the Verizon Tustin Project. Woodworth "supported the effort by SASCO to pursue the project under its normal estimating process. As such, he followed the process through to the bid. Pursuant to the bid, he supported the sales effort to acquire the project. SASCO reasonably believed that it had procured the job and 'booked' the job into its business plan." "SASCO is informed and believes . . . [that] WOODWORTH contacted the Verizon Tustin MSC general contractor and encouraged them to ignore the SASCO bid and their verbal commitment and to award the job to ROSENDIN based on a bid that undermined the SASCO bid, with which WOODWORTH was intimately familiar. SASCO is informed and believes . . . that [defendants] surreptitiously used SASCO's bid number and improperly submitted their own bid. As a result . . . the contract was wrongly awarded to ROSENDIN."

"SASCO is informed and believes . . . that [individual defendants] also took confidential, proprietary, and trade secret information including SASCO's unique estimating and job cost systems to ROSENDIN. Said systems are unique in the construction industry in that the estimating system provides the basis for the job cost system and the monitoring systems that allow SASCO to maintain its competitive edge." "SASCO is informed and believes . . . that [defendants] surreptitiously accessed, copied, and misappropriated SASCO's estimating and job cost systems and applied them at Rosendin. Access to SASCO's systems was limited to senior management."

Based on these alleged facts, SASCO set forth five causes of action: (1) misappropriation of trade secrets; (2) intentional interference with prospective economic advantage; (3) unfair business practices; (4) breach of contract; and (5) breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

Discovery

SASCO identified (pursuant to Code of Civ. Proc., ยง 2019.210) the trade secret at issue as "a proprietary computer program which creates monthly construction project reports, which include, but are not limited to, past and projected labor and materials, project change history, variances from schedules, job performance reports, and labor performed by area and task code. These reports estimate costs and manage projects by ...


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