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Tripwire, Inc. v. Murchison

United States District Court, D. Oregon

March 16, 2018

TRIPWIRE, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
ROD MURCHISON, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          STACIE F. BECKERMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Tripwire, Inc. (“Tripwire”) filed this action against former employee Rod Murchison (“Murchison”), alleging violations of Oregon contract, trade secret, and tort laws. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 33-73.) Murchison removed the matter to federal court. (ECF No. 1.) This Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

         The parties filed cross-motions for partial summary judgment based on competing interpretations of Murchison's employment contract. (Def.'s Mot. for Partial Summ. J.; Pl.'s Mot. for Partial Summ. J.) Read in context, the disputed contract term is unambiguous. Accordingly, the Court grants Tripwire's motion for partial summary judgment and denies Murchison's cross-motion.

         BACKGROUND

         The parties filed a joint stipulation setting forth undisputed facts relevant to their summary judgment motions. (ECF No. 17 (hereinafter “Joint Stip.”).) The parties' pleadings and motions provide additional undisputed facts.

         Tripwire hired Murchison as its Vice President of Product Management in November 2012. (Am. Compl. ¶ 7; Answer ¶ 7.) The parties signed an Employee Proprietary Information and Inventions Agreement (“Agreement”) on November 19, 2012. (Joint Stip. ¶ 3; Am. Compl., Ex. A.) Tripwire drafted the Agreement, and Murchison signed it without edit. (Joint Stip. ¶¶ 2, 4.) A true and correct copy of the Agreement is filed with Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. (Am. Compl., Ex. A; Joint Stip ¶ 1.)

         The Agreement contains the following provision:

4. Additional Activities. I agree that during the period of my employment by the Company I will not, without the Company's express written consent, engage in any employment or business activity, which is competitive with, or would otherwise conflict with, my employment by the Company. I agree further that for the period of my employment by the Company and for one (1) year after the date of termination of my employment by the Company, I will not induce any employee of the Company to leave the employ of the Company.

(Am. Compl., Ex. A at 3 (hereinafter “Paragraph Four”) (emphasis added).) Murchison voluntarily resigned from Tripwire on September 2, 2016. (Am. Compl. ¶ 14; Joint Stip. ¶ 6.)

         Tripwire filed its complaint in Oregon state court. (ECF No. 1, Ex A.) The complaint alleges four claims for relief under Oregon law: (1) breach of contract; (2) violation of Oregon's Trade Secrets Act, Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 646.461-.475; (3) breach of fiduciary duty; and (4) tortious interference with economic relations. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 33-73.) Tripwire relies on Paragraph Four to support its first, third, and fourth claims. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 35, 37, 43, 59, 64-68, 70, 71.)

         Murchison removed the case to federal court. (ECF No. 1.) The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment seeking to resolve a disputed interpretation of Paragraph Four. (Def.'s Mot. for Partial Summ. J.; Pl.'s Mot. for Partial Summ. J.)

         ANALYSIS

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment is appropriate where there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). On a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of that party. Porter v. Cal. Dep't of Corr.,419 F.3d 885, 891 (9th Cir. 2005). The court does not assess the credibility of witnesses, weigh evidence, or determine the truth of matters in dispute. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). “Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the ...


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