Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

LLC v. Petersen

United States District Court, D. Colorado

May 19, 2018

915 LABS, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
KEVIN PETERSEN, Defendant/Third Party Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL DE CARO, Third Party Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS AND MOTION TO INTERVENE

          MARCIA S. KRIEGER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court pursuant to Microwerk, LLC's Motion to Intervene (# 28), to which no party has responded; and Third Party Defendant Michael De Caro's Motion to Dismiss (# 29) the claims against him, Third Party Plaintiff Keven Petersen's response (# 35), and Mr. De Caro's reply (# 37).

         FACTS

         As relevant here, according to Mr. Petersen's Third-Party Complaint (# 27), Mr. Petersen was previously involved with the Plaintiff 915 Labs, LLC (“915”), a business engaged in the use of microwave technology to pasteurize and sterilize prepared foods. Mr. Petersen eventually grew dissatisfied with the direction that 915 was taking. In late 2016, Mr. Petersen made contact with Mr. De Caro, a contractor performing sales work for 915, and the two men executed a mutual non-disclosure agreement in furtherance of discussions about forming a new, competing business called Modern Advantage Technology, LLC (“MAT”). As part of those discussions, Mr. De Caro created a shared file on his computer, containing “marketing materials” that Mr. De Caro had used as part of his work with 915. Mr. Petersen and Mr. De Caro jointly formed MAT in mid-2017, and Mr. De Caro was tasked with assembling its information technology infrastructure, such as web domains and e-mail servers. Disagreements between the two men quickly ensued and Mr. De Caro exited MAT in acrimonious circumstances. As part of his departure, Mr. De Caro “seized control” of MAT's web domain and e-mail infrastructure, and refused to return it. Moreover, Mr. De Caro, in an effort to sabotage Mr. Petersen and MAT, reached out to 915 and “provided false information” to it, accusing Mr. Petersen of misusing 915's confidential information. (This prompted 915 to bring the primary claims in this action, alleging that Mr. Petersen misappropriated 915's trade secrets and breached various contractual agreements he had with 915.) Mr. Petersen contends that, to the extent that 915's confidential information was improperly disclosed, it was disclosed by Mr. De Caro, not by himself.

         Based on these facts, as to Mr. De Caro, Mr. Petersen asserts a single third-party claim for conversion under an unspecified jurisdiction's common law, arguing that Mr. De Caro “exercised ownership over Mr. Petersen's and [MAT's] domain, email servers, and email accounts” with the intent of depriving them of the use of these items.

         Mr. De Caro now moves to dismiss (# 29) Mr. Petersen's claim against him for lack of personal jurisdiction. Mr. De Caro notes that he is a citizen of the State of Washington and has no particular contacts with the State of Colorado.

         Separately, MAT (also known as Microwerk) moves to intervene (# 28) in order to assert its own third-party claims against Mr. De Caro and 915. Specifically, it contends that Mr. De Caro misappropriated MAT's own trade secret information and conveyed it to 915, who, in turn, improperly used the information to interfere with MAT's contracts and prospective relations with MAT's own partners and customers. No party has opposed MAT's request to intervene.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Personal jurisdiction over Mr. De Caro

         1. Personal jurisdiction

         The party asserting claims against a defendant bears the burden of proving that the Court has personal jurisdiction over that defendant. AST Sports Science, Inc. v. CLF Distribution Ltd., 514 F.3d 1054, 1056 (10th Cir.2008). At the preliminary stages of a lawsuit, the Court may elect to conclusively resolve issues of personal jurisdiction by conducting an evidentiary hearing on the matter; alternatively, it my defer full consideration of the jurisdictional question until later in the case, and require only a prima facie showing, via affidavit or other evidence, of facts that, if true, would support the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the defendant. At this stage, the Court resolves any factual disputes in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id.

         Due to Colorado's expansive Long-Arm Statute, the jurisdictional inquiry has only two prongs: (i) an evaluation of whether the defendant has sufficient “minimum contacts” with the forum state, such that he “should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there”; and (ii) whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the defendant would offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. Id., citing World -Wide Volkswagon Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980) and Asahi Metal Indus. Co. v. Superior Court, 480 U.S. 102, 113 (1987). The “minimum contacts” inquiry, in turn, also has two strands: “general” and “specific” jurisdiction. The Supreme Court has recently clarified and narrowed the minimum contacts inquiry: “general” personal jurisdiction exists only in the state of an individual's domicile. Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court, 137 S.Ct. 1773, 1779-80 (2017). Otherwise, the Court considers whether it has “specific” jurisdiction over the defendant by examining the nature and extent of the defendant's contacts with the forum jurisdiction, but the Court considers only those contacts that arise out of or relate to the claims asserted against the defendant. Id.

         The Court reflexively rejects Mr. Petersen's argument that Mr. De Caro is subject to general jurisdiction in Colorado; it is undisputed that Mr. De Caro is domiciled in Washington.

         Thus, the only question for the Court is whether Mr. De Caro's contacts with Colorado, as those contacts relate to Mr. Petersen's conversion claim, are significant. To perform that inquiry, the Court first delineates the contours of Mr. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.