United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
RICHARD A. JONES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Court held a hearing on this matter on January 12, 2017. The
Court heard testimony from Defendant Roxanne Motamedi. Upon
review of the briefs and after hearing arguments and
testimony from the parties, the Court converts part of the
previously issued temporary restraining order (TRO) into a
preliminary injunction, as outlined below. Dkt. # 20.
order to obtain preliminary relief, a party “must
establish that [it] is likely to succeed on the merits, that
[it] is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of
preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in
[its] favor, and that an injunction is in the public
interest.” Am. Trucking Ass'ns, Inc. v. City of
Los Angeles, 559 F.3d 1046, 1052 (9th Cir. 2009)
(quoting Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council,
Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008)). “In addition, a
‘preliminary injunction is appropriate when a plaintiff
demonstrates that serious questions going to the merits were
raised and the balance of hardships tips sharply in the
plaintiff's favor, ' provided the plaintiff also
demonstrates that irreparable harm is likely and that the
injunction is in the public interest.” Andrews v.
Countrywide Bank, NA, 95 F.Supp.3d 1298, 1300 (W.D.
Wash. 2015) (quoting Alliance for the Wild Rockies v.
Cottrell, 632 F.3d 1127, 1134-35 (9th Cir. 2011)).
Court previously found that these criteria were met, and new
facts and argument since verify that this was the correct
assessment. First, there is clear evidence submitted to the
Court pursuant to the parties' expedited discovery and
summarized in Getty's briefs that demonstrate Ms.
Motamedi accessed and utilized information solely derived
during her employment with Getty. Second, if the Court does
not convert the TRO into a preliminary injunction, then Ms.
Motamedi may continue to access Getty's confidential
information causing harm to Getty that will not be relieved
through monetary damages. Third, Ms. Motamedi is able to work
in a new position in her industry. Her only restriction is to
refrain from utilizing the information described in this
Order. Accordingly, the balance of equities tips in
Getty's favor. Finally, it is in the public interest for
courts to protect confidential information and trade secrets
under the circumstances presented in cases such as this one.
purpose of the January 12, 2017 hearing, in part, was to
allow Ms. Motamedi the opportunity to present evidence in
support of her defenses and to argue that the balance of
equities tipped in her favor. Indeed, Ms. Motamedi argued
that the balance of hardships tipped in her favor because she
is effectively barred from pursuing work in her field. This
is not the case. Washington law supports the idea that client
lists-whether in tangible form or memorized-are protected
trade secrets. The Washington Supreme Court specifically
As a general rule, an employee who has not signed an
agreement not to compete is free, upon leaving employment, to
engage in competitive employment. In so doing, the former
employee may freely use general knowledge, skills, and
experience acquired under his or her former employer.
However, the former employee, even in the absence of an
enforceable covenant not to compete, remains under a duty not
to use or disclose, to the detriment of the former employer,
trade secrets acquired in the course of previous employment.
Where the former employee seeks to use the trade secrets of
the former employer in order to obtain a competitive
advantage, then competitive activity can be enjoined or
result in an award of damages
Ed Nowogroski Ins., Inc. v. Rucker, 971 P.2d 936,
941-42 (Wash. 1999). Therefore, Ms. Motamedi is enjoined from
utilizing Getty's client lists in any way, including
through the use of her own memory. Though it should be clear,
the Court reiterates that Ms. Motamedi may not divulge this
information to Silverhub.
courts recognize the Restatement (Second) of Agency. See
Kieburtz & Assocs., Inc. v. Rehn, 842 P.2d 985, 988
(Wash.Ct.App. 1992) (noting that Washington “courts
have referenced the Restatement (Second) of Agency in many
prior cases, and it cannot be argued that the Restatement is
irrelevant to decisions made in this jurisdiction.”).
According to the Restatement (Second) of Agency, employees
may prepare to compete prior to resignation, but they may not
actively solicit customers or use confidential information
before resignation. Restatement (Second) of Agency § 393
(1958). Therefore, to preserve the status quo, Ms. Motamedi
is enjoined from contacting any of Getty's employees or
freelancers that she had contacted prior to her resignation
with regard to joining Silverhub. This prohibition will
remain in effect until November 7, 2017, which is twelve
months from the date of Ms. Motamedi's resignation.
Motamedi argued that allowing Getty to completely
“wipe” her devices was a draconian measure. The
Court agrees in part. The Court places the onus on Ms.
Motamedi to identify the information on her phones and
computers that is personal to her and unrelated to the
current dispute. The Court orders Ms. Motamedi to identify
this information on any phone or computer she used in the
course of her employment with Getty. Ms. Motamedi shall then
turn over all of these devices along with the list of the
identified personal information to an agreed upon neutral
third party who will delete any information that Ms. Motamedi
has not identified as personal. The parties shall direct the
neutral third party to image the devices after this process
so that Ms. Motamedi may confirm with Getty that its
confidential information and trade secrets have been removed
from her devices. The Court requires the parties to file a
joint status report within one week from the date of this
Order confirming that this process has been completed.
Local Rules authorize the Court to “order the parties
to engage in mediation . . ., and may schedule the required
steps so as to maximize the prospects of early
settlement.” W.D. Wash. Local Rules LCR 39.1(c). Though
the Court will not order the parties into mediation at this