Hawkins Parnell Secures Defense Verdict in $10M Trade Secrets Case in California

June 5, 2023 – Press Release

June 5, 2023 (Long Beach, CA) – Hawkins Parnell & Young notched a complete defense jury verdict in a four-week trade secrets trial for clients Butler Chemicals, Inc. and Gary Erlandson. Hawkins Parnell partners Todd Haas of the San Diego office and Ryan Sellers of the Orange County office were lead trial counsel for Butler Chemicals and Erlandson, respectively.

The trial stems from Eversoft, Inc. (dba HD Chem) alleging Butler Chemicals unlawfully hired their employee to obtain and use confidential information and trade secrets to entice customers to switch their business to Butler Chemicals. Eversoft also claimed that Erlandson had breached his employment contract and duty of undivided loyalty by engaging in conduct to gain an unfair advantage and pull customers away from Eversoft. Eversoft further alleged that Butler Chemicals and Erlandson had misappropriated alleged trade secrets. In the complaint, Eversoft sought $10 million in damages.

Following the plaintiff's presentation of evidence at trial, Todd called on 13 witnesses for Butler Chemicals, each of whom testified at trial that no alleged confidential information was used to solicit customers and no trade secrets were misappropriated. Ryan presented testimony from four witnesses affiliated with Eversoft to demonstrate that there were no alleged trade secrets. Expert testimony was provided as to the alleged damages.

Throughout the trial, Eversoft attempted to introduce evidence of Erlandson's employment contract, which contained a requirement to not disclose any alleged confidential information and/or not compete with Eversoft following his employment. Todd and Ryan successfully countered these claims for Hawkins Parnell's clients, convincing the trial court that the non-competition was invalid as a matter of law and that special jury instructions should be read to the jury.

After more than four weeks of trial in the Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse in Long Beach, California, the jury deliberated for two days before returning a verdict for Hawkins Parnell's clients. The jury found by special verdict in favor of Butler Chemicals and Gary Erlandson on each and every cause of action alleged, and the judge then dissolved the preliminary injunction as to Gary Erlandson.

"Justice was served for the defendants in this hotly contested trial," said Todd. "Butler Chemicals is an outstanding business with over 5,000 customers. They are one of the leading companies on the West Coast of warewash, laundry, and custom chemical cleaning systems."

Ryan added, "The jury carefully weighed the evidence presented during the four-week trial, including the testimony of several independent witnesses, and found that Butler Chemicals and Gary Erlandson simply did nothing wrong."