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Cen Com, Inc. v. Numerex Corp.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

March 7, 2018

CEN COM INC., a Washington corporation d/b/a American Digital Monitoring, Plaintiff,
v.
NUMEREX CORP., a Pennsylvania corporation; NEXTALARM, LLC, a Georgia limited liability corporation, and DOES 1-10, Defendants.

          ORDER ON PENDING MOTIONS

          RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on the following motions:

1) Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Dkt. #22);
2) Plaintiff's Motion for Protective Order (Dkt. #27); and
3) Defendants' Motion for Sanctions and an Order to Show Cause (Dkt. #35).

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court resolves the motions as follows. Defendants' and Plaintiff's remaining discovery motions (Dkts. #39, #41 #58 and #59) will be resolved by separate Order(s).

         II. BACKGROUND

         This breach of contract/trade secret matter was removed to this Court on April 11, 2017. Dkt. #1. According to the Complaint, Defendant NextAlarm, LLC (“NextAlarm”) and Plaintiff Cen Com, Inc. (“Cen Com”) are businesses in the alarm-monitoring industry. Dkt. #1-2 at ¶ ¶ 1.1 and 1.2. The parties worked together for several years. Id. at ¶ 4.4. That business relationship allowed Cen Com to monitor NextAlarm accounts and respond to signals from those accounts to summon the appropriate first responders. Id. Cen Com contends that while providing those services, its employees learned that NextAlarm lacked crucial and commercially valuable information/data regarding NextAlarm customers. See ¶ ¶ 4.6-4.7. Cen Com allegedly acquired that missing information/data while providing services for NextAlarm. Id. When NextAlarm notified Cen Com that Cen Com's services would no longer be needed, Cen Com offered to sell that data to NextAlarm, but a sale never materialized. Instead, the parties entered into a deal whereby Cen Com agreed to act solely as an intermediary by forwarding NextAlarm signals to a new vendor whose live operators would dispatch emergency services or contact customers as needed. Id. at ¶ 4.8 and Ex. A thereto. The agreement required NextAlarm to use reasonable efforts to ensure that the new vendor did not use Cen Com's data for improper purposes. Id. and ¶ 4.10.

         Cen Com contends that NextAlarm violated the agreement by working with the new vendor to steal commercially valuable and confidential information from Cen Com databases. Id. at ¶ ¶ 4.13-4.20. Based on these allegations, Cen Com asserts twelve claims against NextAlarm, including claims for breach of contract, negligence, fraud/misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, tortious interference with a business expectancy, conversion (stolen data), violation of Washington's Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”), unjust enrichment, aiding and abetting, trade secret misappropriation (Uniform Trade Secrets Act), civil conspiracy and vicarious liability. Id. at ¶ ¶ 5.1-16.2.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

         1. Legal Standard

         Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a party to move to dismiss a suit “[a]fter the pleadings are closed . . . but early enough not to delay trial.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). “Judgment on the pleadings is proper when, taking all allegations in the pleading as true, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Stanley v. Trustees of Cal. State Univ., 433 F.3d 1129, 1133 (9th Cir. 2006); see also Fleming v. Pickard, 581 F.3d 922, 925 (9th Cir. 2009). Because a motion for judgment on the pleadings is “functionally identical” to a motion to dismiss, the ...


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