Florida Business Torts and Fraud

 Fort Lauderdale, Florida Business Litigation Attorney

Jonathan Pollard represents clients throughout the state of Florida in complex business disputes involving business torts such as theft of trade secrets and fraud.  He represents both plaintiffs and defendants throughout Florida and beyond. Jonathan has significant experience in high-level business tort cases, including:

  • Representing Sunset Concepts I.P. Firm, LLC, an intellectual property holding company, in prosecuting claims for misappropriation of ideas related to the Oprah Winfrey Network in Sunset Concepts I.P. Firm LLC v. Discovery Communications Inc., Case. No.  1:13-cv-22005 (S.D.F.L.)
  • Defending Showmark Media, LLC, a Delaware-based media company, and its principals in misappropriation of trade secrets litigation in American Registry, LLC v. Hanaw et al (2:13-cv-00352) (M.D.F.L.)

Jonathan’s specific areas of focus include:

Misappropriation of Trade Secrets

In many instances, a company’s trade secrets are its most valuable property.  The unauthorized use of those secrets could result in irreparable harm.  The situation is particularly dire if those secrets fall into the hands of a competitor.  A claim for misappropriation of trade secrets can be pursued under Florida’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“FUTSA”), F.S. 688.002 et seq.

Both employers and employees should be aware of the FUTSA.   An emloyer must take steps to protect its trade secrets, often using confidentiality and/or non-compete agreements.  The employer must go beyond the use of such agreements and actually ensure that the claimed trade secrets are kept in the strictest confidence.   In the event that these trade secrets are misappropriated – often by a former employer who uses them in a new job – the company must take immediate and aggressive steps to protect their valuable proprietary information.

In some instances, there has been an actual, physical act of misappropriation.  For instance, the employee stole a corporate laptop, stole files or downloaded various documents and databases to a flash drive.  In this type of situation, time is of the essence.  The company must take immediate legal action and (1) Sue for damages under the FUTSA (2) Seek a temporary restraining order prohibiting further misappropriation and compelling return of any stolen materials and (3) Enlist the assistance of various third parties (e.g. forensic investigators) to serach the defendants’ computers and databases for stolen materials.  In almost every case where there is credible evidence of actual, physical misappropriation, an aggressive approach is necessary.

On the flip side, employees should be mindful of the FUTSA.  To state the obvious, when an employee separates from a company, he should always do so with “clean hands.”  He should never seek to take corporate property with him.  In some instances, even if an employee makes a clean break and does not actually misappropriate corporate property, he will still face a lawsuit alleging violations of the FUTSA.  This often happens where the employee goes to work for a competitor or starts a competing company.  In these situations, the former employer may not have evidence of actual misappropriation (e.g. actually taking the materials, stealing a laptop, downloading the files, etc.), but they will still file a lawsuit to protect their interests.  In these situations, the ex-employee must defend the case vigorously with an eye toward beating the case at the summary judgment stage.

Both sides should be aware of what type of information can qualify as a trade secret.   The general definition of trade secret includes things like formulas, patterns, practices, programs, devices, techniques or collections of data.  But courts have held that other seemingly less unique things can constitute trade secrets.  Business methods, financial records, client lists, and customer files can all constitute trade secrets in certain situations.
The FUTSA provides several remedies for trade secret violations.  A plaintiff can seek an injunction to prevent misappropriation or money damages as compensation for misappropriation that has already occurred.  In addition, the prevailing party is often entitled to recover its attorney’s fees and court costs.

Jonathan represents both plaintiffs and defendants in Florida trade secret litigation.   To read more about recent developments in trade secret litigation, visit Jonathan Pollard LLC’s the non compete blog.  If you are faced with defending a trade secrets case, or believe that your trade secrets have been misappropriated, call Fort Lauderdale attorney Jonathan Pollard to discuss your options.

Investment Fraud Litigation

Fraud occurs via misrepresentation or omission. Securities or investment fraud is one of the most common types of fraud, particularly in south Florida.  Whether investing in stock, contributing funds to a business venture or purchasing real property, the existence of material misrepresentations or omissions may give rise to a fraud claim.  Where an investor is mislead in connection with the purchase or sale of stock, this may give rise to a claim under Rule 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  This rule makes it illegal for any person to make any untrue statement of material fact or any omission of a material fact in connection with the purchase or sale of any security.  Where an investment relates to a business venture, these claims are often pursued as common law fraud and occasionally as civil theft.  If you have been avictim of investment fraud, or if you were induced to invest in a business venture or purchase real propertybased on material misrepresentations or omissions, please contact Fort Lauderdale attorney Jonathan Pollard to discuss your rights.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims

Fiduciaries are people in positions of trust.  This usually includes advisers, executors of estates, trust administrators, and money managers.   Because of this position of trust, these people are bound by law to fulfill their fiduciary obligations.   In short, that means they are obligated to act in with the utmost good faith and honesty.  Some of the most common breaches of fiduciary duty involve self-dealing and conflicts of interest— in other words, using their position to their own benefit, rather than discharging their fiduciary obligations.