Articles Posted in Antitrust & Trade Regulation

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USA Power, LLC developed a power plant project in Mona, Utah called the “Spring Canyon vision.” Meanwhile, PacifiCorp entered into negotiations to purchase USA Power’s Spring Canyon assets, and USA Power provided PacifiCorp with details on the entire project. PacifiCorp terminated the negotiations, however, and began construction on a power plant project in Mona that was very similar to the Spring Canyon project. PacifiCorp also retained Jody Williams, USA Power’s former attorney, to help it obtain water rights for its project, called the Currant Creek project. USA Power brought suit against Williams, asserting malpractice claims for Williams’s alleged breach of her fiduciary duties of confidentiality and loyalty, and against PacifiCorp, alleging misappropriation of USA Power’s trade secrets. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The Supreme Court reversed. On remand, the jury returned a special verdict against PacifiCorp and Williams. The trial court reduced the unjust enrichment award against PacifiCorp, granted Williams’s judgment notwithstanding the verdict motion for lack of evidence related to causation, and determined that USA was entitled to attorney fees. Both parties appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s rulings as to each issue presented on appeal, holding that the court did not err in its judgment. View "USA Power, LLC v. PacifiCorp" on Justia Law

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Defendant worked for Plaintiff, a technology company, as an engineer. During and after her employment with Plaintiff, Defendant forwarded confidential emails to her private Gmail account, copied a confidential business plan to a thumb drive, and placed protected information on the record in an administrative proceeding. Plaintiff filed suit, alleging that Defendant had violated a non-disclosure agreement and misappropriated company trade secrets. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendant, determining that Plaintiff had failed to make an adequate showing of harm. The court further entered Utah R. Civ. P. 11 sanctions against Plaintiff and awarded attorney fees to Defendant. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence of threatened harm - or at least genuine issues of material fact concerning such harm - to defeat Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment; and (2) because Plaintiff prevailed on Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, Defendant could not be entitled to sanctions or fees. View "Innosys v. Mercer" on Justia Law

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Legacy Resources, Inc. brought several claims against Liberty Pioneer Energy Source, Inc. The district court dismissed Legacy's breach of contract and trade secret claims on summary judgment, determining (1) Legacy violated the securities laws by acting as an unlicensed broker in recruiting investors on behalf of Liberty; and (2) Legacy's securities violations rendered its contract unenforceable under Utah Code 61-1-22(8). The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the undisputed facts sustained the conclusion that Legacy acted as an unlicensed broker, which violation foreclosed the enforcement of one of its contracts; but (2) another of Legacy's contracts was not implicated by the securities violation, and thus the district court erred by granting summary judgment on Legacy's claim under that contract, along with its trade secret claim. View "Legacy Res., Inc. v. Liberty Pioneer Energy Source, Inc." on Justia Law

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Shawn Adel, a former employee of Westgate Resorts, a timeshare company, formed Consumer Protection Group (CPG) to right perceived wrongs stemming from Westgate's offer of certificates to consumers that were virtually irredemable. CPG solicited people who had received certificates to assign their claims to CPG. Westgate sued Adel, claiming intentional interference with existing and potential economic relations, conversion, breach of contract, and violation of the Utah Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Adel and CPG counterclaimed on behalf of 500 claimants, alleging breach of contract, fraudulent inducement, and violation of the Utah Consumer Protection Act. The jury awarded actual economic damages of between $5 and $550 for each claimant and awarded each claimant punitive damages of $66,666. The Supreme Court vacated the jury's punitive damages award, holding that the award violated Westgate's procedural due process rights under Philip Morris USA v. Williams because the statements made by CPG's counsel during closing argument created a risk that the jury would improperly consider harm allegedly caused by Westgate to nonparties when it fixed its punitive damages award. Remanded for a new evaluation of the punitive damages award only. View "WestGate Resorts, Ltd. v. Adel" on Justia Law

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In a 1905 water exchange agreement, Big Ditch Irrigation Company conveyed its Big Cottonwood Creek water right to the Salt Lake City Corporation in exchange for the City's commitment to supply Big Ditch with a specified quantity of irrigation-quality water from City sources. Concerned that Big Ditch was infringing upon the City's water rights, the City initiated this case against Big Ditch and four Big Ditch shareholders in district court. The City sought declaratory judgment on several issues. Big Ditch and the shareholders counterclaimed. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the City on most major issues. On appeal, the Supreme Court held that the district court properly dismissed the defendants' counterclaims and correctly concluded that the City holds title to the water rights conveyed in the agreement. The Court held, however, that the district court erred in (1) determining that Big Ditch did not have a right to file change applications; (2) determining that the parties had modified the agreement or, alternatively, that Big Ditch was estopped from enforcing its right to the amount of water specified in the agreement; and (3) refusing to dismiss the City's claims against the shareholders. View "Salt Lake City Corp. v. Big Ditch Irrigation Co." on Justia Law