United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION AND ORDER
Aiken, United States District Judge
filed this action alleging claims for intentional
interference with existing and prospective contract
relations, misappropriation of trade secrets, equitable
accounting, and conversion. Plaintiff seeks economic and
compensatory damages, punitive damages, unjust enrichment
damages, injunctive relief, and attorney's fees.
Defendant filed a counterclaim alleging tortious interference
with contract, and plaintiff now seeks dismissal of
defendant's counterclaim. The motion is granted.
Sirius Computer Solutions, Inc. (Sirius) is a Texas IT
corporation, and defendant Nordisk Systems, Inc. (Nordisk) is
an Oregon IT corporation in direct competition with Sirius.
claims and defendant's counterclaim arise from
Nordisk's employment of Jason Sparks, a former Sirius
employee, in May of 2015.
to the complaint, in June 2014, Sirius hired Sparks as a
Storage Solutions Sales Specialist. Compl. ¶ 8. Sparks
was responsible for interacting with and soliciting both
prospective and current Sirius customers to purchase IT
business solutions. Compl. ¶ 8. As a condition of his
employment with Sirius, Sparks signed a
"Confidentiality, Protection of Customer Relationships
and Non-Solicitation Agreement" (Agreement). Compl.
¶¶ 9-11. The Agreement allegedly prohibited Sparks
from soliciting blown Sirius customers on behalf of
competitors and required Sparks to disclose his obligations
to potential future employers. Compl. ¶¶ 12-14.
Sirius alleges that, immediately prior to tendering his
resignation at Sirius, Sparks accessed and downloaded Sirius
files containing confidential and propriety information and
disclosed that information for the benefit of Nordisk.
also alleges that in the months leading to May 2015, Sparks
and Nordisk colluded to solicit Sirius customers and
employees and interfere with Sirius's relationships with
existing and prospective customers and employees. Compl.
¶¶ 30-43. Sirius alleges that this collusion
included the dissemination of protected information that
belonged to Sirius.
these alleged breaches of the Agreement, on August 6, 2015,
Sirius filed suit against Sparks in Bexar County, Texas (the
Texas Lawsuit). Compl. ¶ 46; Am. Ans. ¶ 56. Sirius
sought a temporary restraining order (TRO) to enjoin Sparks
from soliciting or attempting to solicit prospective
customers of Sirius, and the Texas court granted the ex parte
TRO. Compl. ¶ 47. Following entry of the TRO, Sparks
removed the litigation to the United States District Court
for the Western District of Texas and filed several
counterclaims against Sirius, including claims for wrongful
injunction, malicious prosecution, breach of contract, and
tortious interference. Compl. ¶ 49.
August 14, 2015, Sparks and Nordisk filed suit against Sirius
in the District of Oregon. Nor disk Systems, Inc., v.
Sirhts Computer Solutions, Inc., Case No.
03:15-cv-01540-HZ (D, Or. 2015); Compl. ¶ 50.
Ultimately, Sparks withdrew as a plaintiff, and his claims
were transferred and consolidated with his counterclaims in
the Texas action. Nordisk pursued claims against Sirius for
intentional interference with economic relations and abuse of
process. Nordisk essentially alleged that Sirius wrongfully
sought an overbroad TRO that restrained Sparks from
completing his duties as a Nordisk employee. Upon motion by
Sirius, District Judge Hernandez dismissed Nordisk's
claims on prudential standing grounds, The Texas Lawsuit
brought by Sirius against Sparks continued in the Western
District of Texas until May 13, 2016, when Sparks filed for
Chapter 13 bankruptcy. On May 19, 2016, the District Court in
Texas stayed and administratively closed the proceeding.
Compl. ¶ 53.
the stay of the Texas Lawsuit, on August 12, 2016, Sirius
filed the instant suit against Nordisk. In response, Nordisk
asserted a counterclaim for tortious interference with
contract based on the TRO Sirius sought and obtained against
Sparks. Am. Ans. ¶¶ 52-68.
moves to dismiss Nordisk's counterclaim on grounds that
the claim is barred by claim and issue preclusion. Sirius
contends that Nordisk's counterclaim is essentially the
same claim as the intentional interference with contract
claim dismissed by Judge Hernandez on standing grounds, and
that the dismissal bars Nordisk from raising the same claim
in this action. I agree.
the doctrine of issue preclusion, "once a court has
decided an issue of fact or law necessary to its judgment,
that decision may preclude relitigation of the issue in a
suit on a different cause of action involving a party to the
first case." Allen v. McCurry, 449 U, S. 90, 94
(1980). Issue preclusion prevents a party from relitigating
an issue decided in a previous action if the following
requirements are met: "(1) there was a full and fair
opportunity to litigate the issue in the previous action; (2)
the issue was actually litigated in that action; (3) the
issue was lost as a result of a final judgment in that
action; and (4) the person against whom collateral estoppel
is asserted in the present action was a party or in privity
with a party in the previous action." In re
Palmer, 207 F.3d 566, 568 (9th Cir. 2000). "Issue
preclusion applies to threshold jurisdictional issues like
standing as well as issues going to a case's
merits." Nat'l Ass'n of Home Builders v.
Envtl. Prol. Agency, 786 F.3d 34, 41 (D.C. Cir. 2015)
(citing Underwriters Nat'l Assurance Co. v. N.C. Life
& Ace. & Health Ins. Guar. Ass'n, 455 U.S.
691, 706 (1982)).
the issue decided in the previous action was whether Nordisk
had prudential standing to pursue an intentional tort claim
against Sirius based on the allegations that Sirius
improperly obtained an overbroad TRO against Sparks and
interfered with the employment relationship between Nordisk
and Sparks. In the previous action, Nordisk alleged that it
had a contractual relationship to Sparks to which Sirius was
not a party. It also alleged that Sirius intentionally and
wrongfully interfered with the contractual relationship
between Nordisk and Sparks by seeking and obtaining an
overbroad TRO, based on the non-solicitation agreement, which
"rendered Sparks unable to perform the job duties for
Nordisk he was hired to perform." Case No.
3:15-cv-1540-HZ (ECF No. 28 at 5). Nordisk alleged that it
suffered damages from Sirius's alleged interference,
including the wages paid to Sparks and the loss of profits
from sales that would have been ...