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Astro-Med, Inc. v. Nihon Kohden America, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
591 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2009)


Facts

Astro-Med, Inc. (Astro-Med) (plaintiff) is Rhode Island company. Astro-Med keeps its financial and marketing information confidential. Astro-Med hired Kevin Plant (defendant). The employee agreement Plant signed included non-competition and non-disclosure clauses, as well as a forum selection clause naming Rhode Island as the proper place for dispute resolution. Astro-Med gave Plant access to its confidential information. Plant asked Astro-Med to relocate him to Florida, which it did. Subsequently, Nihon Kohden America, Inc. (Nihon) (defendant), a California corporation and competitor of Astro-Med, hired Plant out from under Astro-Med to sell its competing products in the same sales region. Nihon was aware of the employment agreement Plant had signed beforehand. Astro-Med sued Plant in federal district court in Rhode Island for breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets. Astro-Med later asserted an unfair competition claim against Plant and joined Nihon, asserting tortious interference and misappropriation of trade secrets. After a contentious trial, Astro-Med was awarded $375,800 in damages. Nihon appealed, arguing that Rhode Island was an improper venue and the case should have been dismissed or transferred.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Woodcock, J.)

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