Risk Update

Confidentiality Concerns — Attorneys, Employees, Emails & Firm IP

California Supreme Court Holds Monster Energy Can Pursue Claim Against Attorney for Breach of Confidentiality in Settlement Agreement” —

  • “The California Supreme Court ruled that where an attorney signs a settlement contract under the notation: ‘approved as to form and content,’ and where the terms of the contract repeatedly referenced both the attorney and the parties, it is not unreasonable for a court to find that just like the parties, the attorney is also bound by the terms of the settlement contract. However, the question of whether the attorney intended to be bound by the contract was a question of fact.”
  • “Monster then filed suit against Schechter, alleging he breached the terms of the Agreement by speaking about it publicly. The Agreement had a confidentiality clause…The appellate court reversed, holding that an attorney’s signature under the words: ‘approved as to form and content’ does not objectively manifest that attorney’s intent to be bound by the agreement.”
  • “The California Supreme Court reversed and found that Monster sufficiently established a probability of prevailing on its breach of contract claim, and Schechter’s anti-SLAPP motion should thus be denied. In reaching its ultimate ruling, the court analyzed whether Schechter was bound by the Agreement.”
  • “The court found there was no question the Agreement purported to encompass both the parties to the litigation as well as their counsel, at least with respect to the confidentiality clause.”

DWF trainee loses unfair dismissal claim over confidential emails” —

  • “A trainee solicitor fired by listed law firm DWF for sharing confidential client information with a friend has failed in her unfair dismissal claim before an employment tribunal.”
  • “In March 2017, DWF became aware that she had sent two emails to clients without them being checked by a supervisor or more senior colleague, in breach of its supervision policy. The resulting examination of her email account showed she had been sending emails containing client information to Ms Ramsay and to her own private email address.”
  • “The material included legal advice which was subject to legal professional privilege; ‘key client news’ updates; a template zero-hours contract produced for a client; and papers relating to litigation with third parties that included their identity and personal medical information.”
  • “The tribunal added: ‘She defended her actions by saying her actions were not done deliberately or for anyone’s gain. She argued that no harm had resulted, though conceded… that this was more a matter of luck.'”

Cokinos Young, Ex-Marketing Director Trade Barbs In IP Row” —

  • “A midsize Houston construction law firm and its former marketing director’s fight over allegedly stolen client contacts has escalated, with the former director alleging in Texas state court that the firm has engaged in a ‘frivolous scheme’ to keep her unemployed, and the firm challenging the claim under a free speech law.”
  • “O’Brien alleged in her claim on Wednesday that the firm has wrongfully interfered with her employment opportunities. However, the firm said O’Brien’s claim fails under the Texas Citizens Participation Act, an anti-SLAPP law meant to discourage strategic lawsuits against public participation, because it relates to the firm’s right to petition the courts.”
  • “On July 26, one day after the law firm filed suit, it obtained a temporary restraining order against O’Brien barring her from using any of the alleged confidential information of its clients and ordering her to return any in her possession. In its motion on Friday, the firm said O’Brien’s countersuit ‘fails to even allege what the tort is that Cokinos Young supposedly committed.'”
  • “O’Brien told the court in her suit that she signed a confidentiality agreement when she started working with the firm, but not a noncompete agreement. Near the end of her tenure, she alleges that the firm began pressuring her into signing a noncompete agreement ‘when it realized that she had opportunities to work for different employers.’ She declined to sign the agreement, which she alleges is “so restrictive and intrusive” that she couldn’t trust the firm to ‘treat her fairly and had no further desire to be employed,’ so she resigned. O’Brien alleges that ‘enraged’ firm leaders.”
  • “‘She’s suing us because we filed a lawsuit,” White [firm’s lawyer] said. ‘It’s pretty straightforward. … This is not a situation where an employer has decided to go after someone, we just want to make sure our information stays protected.'”
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