MIAMI (Florida Record) – Following a recent ruling in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, one defendant remains in a federal lawsuit filed by a Texas wealth management company that claims an Oregon firm benefited when two former employees went to work for that firm and took confidential company information with them.
U.S. District Judge Darrin P. Gayles granted most of a defense motion to dismiss a third amended complaint on all but one count in the case filed by Dallas-based Fusion Analytics Investment Partners in October. The only count left standing are allegations raised under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) against one of two former Fusion employees. "Because the CFAA claim here relates to Peter Weitz allegedly concealing information in furtherance of the alleged trade secret theft, the court finds that these claims all form part of the same case or controversy," Gayles said in his nine-page order issued June 12.
Fusion sued former employee Peter Weitz and fellow former employee Steven Weitz, in addition to the Portland, Oregon, company Wealth Bridge Solutions, for whom the pair now work, and Wealth Bridge CEO Brian Rice.
Gayles also denied as moot a similar motion to dismiss that had been filed by Rice.
Several members of Fusion Analytic Holdings, a member of Fusion and an entity identified in Gayles' order as a non-diverse party, reside in Florida.
Peter and Steven Weitz had been working for Fusion since May 2009 when they resigned last September and went to work for Wealth Bridge, according to the background portion of Gayles' order. "Over the preceding months, and in anticipation of this move, the Weitz defendants solicited Fusion clients and secreted confidential client information to their personal possession," the order said.
"Wealth Bridge and defendant Brian Rice ... aided and encouraged the scheme of the Weitz defendants and provided them financial incentives for diverting Fusion clients to Wealth Bridge. Finally, on his last day of employment with Fusion, Peter Weitz used computer 'wiping' software, DP Wiper, to delete Fusion business files and to conceal his actions leading up to his departure," court filings said.
Fusion filed suit in the week after the Weitz defendants left for Wealth Bridge, alleging misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of duty of loyalty, conversion, unfair competition, and tortious interference with contract.
"Fusion alleges that when the Weitz defendants resigned from Fusion, they took with them Fusion's confidential client information –- information that, according to Fusion, constitutes protectable trade secrets – and unlawfully solicited Fusion clients to move their business to Wealth Bridge," the order said.
The court granted Fusion's requests for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction while defense counsel subsequently "challenged the sufficiency of Fusion's jurisdictional allegations," the order said.
In February, following other court filings and various defense motions for dismissal, Fusion filed its third amended complaint in which the company maintained the court has diversity jurisdiction over the entire case and revised its federal claim under the CFAA.
In the Weitz and Rice motions for dismissal, defendants claimed the court lacked diversity jurisdiction, that Fusion had failed to state a claim and that even if the court finds that Fusion has adequately stated a CFAA claim, supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims would be inappropriate, the order said.
In the analysis portion of his order, Gayles found the court did not have diversity jurisdiction or supplemental jurisdiction in the case but he did conclude "that Fusion has stated a claim under the CFAA sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss."
"Because the CFAA claim here relates to Peter Weitz allegedly concealing information in furtherance of the alleged trade secret theft, the court finds that these claims all form part of the same case or controversy," the order said.
Peter Weitz will have to answer to that count and Fusion may refile the dismissed counts in state court, according to the order.