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F.C. Beacon Group, Inc. v. Belanger

Superior Court of Maine, Cumberland

September 12, 2017

F.C. BEACON GROUP, INC. Plaintiff
v.
CRAIG BELANGER et als. Defendants

          ELIZABETH KAYATTA, ESQ ARROWOOD PETERS.

          ROBERT KLINE, ESQ KLINE LAW OFFICES.

          ADRIANNE FOUTS, ESQ DRUMMOND WOODSUM.

          ORDER ON PENDING MOTIONS

          A.M. Horton, Justice.

         This civil action involves claims by F. C. Beacon Group, Inc. ["Beacon"], a management consulting firm, against four former employees and the current employers of those former employees, alleging violation of employment agreements, misappropriation of trade secrets, among other claims.

         Before the court is the Motion to Dismiss and, Alternatively, Motion for More Definite Statement filed by Defendants Craig Belanger, Richard Crumb, Rachel Eschle and their current employer, BCE Partners, LLC [hereinafter "the BCE parties''] and the Partial Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant Meaghan Flood and her employer, Anchor Research, LLC [hereinafter "the Anchor parties"]. The motions are opposed. The court elects to decide the motions without oral argument. SeeM.R. Civ. P. 7(b)(7).

         Standard of Review

         A motion to dismiss under M.R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) requires the court to decide whether the pleading to which the motion is directed states a cognizable claim for relief, viewing the allegations in a light favorable to the non-moving party. See Town of Eddington v. University of 'Maine Foundation, 2007 ME 74, ¶5, 926 A.2d 183, 184; Heber v. Lucerne-in-Me. Vill. Corp., 2000 ME 137, ¶7, 755 A.2d 1064, 1066.

         The two motions also challenge the complaint as being insufficiently specific or particular in certain respects. As the Law Court has observed, "Maine is a notice pleading state, . . . only requir[ing] a short and plain statement of the claim to provide fair notice of the cause of action." Johnston v. Me. Energy Recovery Co., 2010 ME 52, ¶ 16, 19 A.3d 823.

         Analysis

         The BCE parties' motion contends that all six counts of the complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim. The Anchor parties' motion is directed to Counts II, III and V. In the court's view, for the reasons stated below, Counts I, II, IV, V and VI are not insufficient, viewed in a light most favorable to the non-moving party.

         Specifically, Count I of the complaint, for breach of contract, does sufficiently allege the existence of contracts between Beacon and the individual BCE parties as well as actions in breach. The BCE parties' claim that the contracts should be governed by California law is contrary to the choice of law provision alleged to be in the contracts. On this record, the court is not persuaded that California law should be applied. Only one of the individual BCE parties, Mr. Crumb, is alleged to be a California resident, and if the BCE parties chose to form BCE Partners, LLC under California law, that does not necessarily mean that California law governs. The factual predicate for the application of California law on any legal issue is not yet before the court. The BCE parties' motion to dismiss will be denied as to Count I.

         As to Count II of the complaint, which alleges misappropriation ofotected trade secrets. However, paragraph 90 of the complaint defines, in considerable detail, what Bea trade secrets, both of the motions to dismiss contend that the complaint lacks any specifics as to how Beacon defines its prcon deems to be its "confidential information, " and paragraph 92 designates the defined confidential information as being Beacon's protected "trade secrets." Plainly, not all of the designated material may qualify as trade secrets, but it is defined in sufficiently particular terms to put the BCE parties on notice of what Beacon claims to be protected.

         The complaint is admittedly less than particular in terms of alleging exactly what the defendants are supposed to have misappropriated, but it need not be more particular than it is. The BCE parties' motion seeks a more definite statement as an alternative to dismissal, but the complaint is sufficiently definite-the ...


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