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Northern Electric Company, Inc. v. Torma

819 N.E.2d 417 (2005)

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Northern Electric Company, Inc. v. Torma

Indiana Supreme Court

819 N.E.2d 417 (2005)

Facts

Northern Electric Company, Inc. (Northern) (plaintiff) was an electric-motor repair shop that also repaired servo motors. Servo motors are difficult to diagnose and repair. Patrick L. Torma (defendant) became supervisor of Northern’s servo-motor repair service in the mid-1990s. During his employment with Northern, Torma compiled a large amount of information about servo motors that aided his work. Torma recorded data readings and information he gained from repairing motors and directed Northern employees to do the same. Torma kept notes from conversations with manufacturer representatives and other servo-motor shops, and he included excerpts from manuals. Torma also pulled information from service bulletins maintained by Northern and internet sites. Torma compiled all this data on a CD-ROM that he organized at night on his home computer. Torma kept the CD-ROM locked in his toolbox, on his person, or at home. In June 2002, Torma resigned from Northern because of a compensation disagreement. Northern told Torma to leave the CD-ROM with his data compilation behind, but Torma refused. Torma started his own servo-repair company, Hy-Tech Automation Repair, Inc. (Hy-Tech) (defendant). Northern filed suit against Torma and Hy-Tech, seeking a temporary restraining order and temporary and permanent injunctions against Torma, alleging that the data compilation was a trade secret belonging to Northern. The trial court held in favor of Torma and Hy-Tech, holding that the data compilation belonged to Torma and was not a trade secret. Northern appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Riley, J.)

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