Hill v. Best Medical Int’l, Inc.

Judge William Standish of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania held that Pennsylvania’s version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“PUTSA”) allows awards of attorneys’ fees in cases of specious misappropriation claims made in bad faith. A radiation therapy company, Best Medical International, Inc. (“Best Medical”) had brought a counterclaim against a former employee, Hill, who had initially sued Best Medical for failure to pay severance benefits. Best Medical later added three other former employees and competitor Accuray, Inc., and alleged that all had misappropriated its trade secrets. Eventually, the former employees and Accuray were granted summary judgment after prolonged settlement discussions in which it came to light that Best Medical could not identify the alleged trade secrets, did not properly investigate its claim before filing, and did not have any actual evidence of misappropriation. The former employees and Accuray proceeded to ask for attorneys’ fees. The issue had not yet been addressed under the PUTSA, but Judge Standish granted the request, as Best Medical’s behavior met numerous other states’ established standards of “objective speciousness” and “subjective bad faith.”

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