Alston & Bird client Audiology Distribution LLC dba HearUSA, a leading hearing services provider in the U.S., and its subsidiaries – MedPlus Health Solutions Inc. and Harmony Hearing Services Inc., which both serve the workers’ compensation industry – have secured a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit charging former officers of MedPlus and Harmony Hearing and other corporate defendants with misappropriating trade secrets and other claims.
Audiology, MedPlus, and Harmony Hearing filed suit on March 3, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, alleging misappropriation of trade secrets, computer fraud and abuse, false advertising and unfair competition, breach of contract, and other claims. The companies alleged that former presidents of MedPlus and Harmony Hearing – Peter Stephens and Jason Dawson, respectively – conspired with CentralComp and Unified Hearing, companies they founded, along with other corporate defendants to raid MedPlus and Harmony Hearing to obtain the companies’ trade secrets, customers, employees, business, and funds.
After an emergency hearing on March 6, 2020, the court granted plaintiffs a temporary restraining order, which enjoined the defendants from certain conduct and required them to take affirmative actions, including sending corrective letters to MedPlus and Harmony customers. After additional briefing and a second hearing, the court on July 7, 2020, granted plaintiffs’ further motion to convert the temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction.
In its order, the court found, among other things, that the plaintiffs had demonstrated a substantial likelihood of prevailing on the merits of their claims and that defendants Stephens and Dawson “violated the ‘Confidentiality’ provision [of their agreements] by accessing MedPlus’ and Harmony’s customer lists, employee lists, customer information, financial and business information, and trade secrets and using this information to divert customers and employees into their competing ventures.” The court then issued a multipart order providing both restrictive and prescriptive injunctive relief, including directing the defendants to stop directly or indirectly soliciting the plaintiff’s customers to transfer their business to the defendants or their affiliated networks until final determination of the case.
Audiology and its subsidiaries are part of WS Audiology, one of the largest hearing aid manufacturers in the world.
Audiology is represented by Alston & Bird partners Yuri Mikulka, Thomas Davison, and James Abe and senior associates Wade Perrin and Caleb Bean of the firm’s Intellectual Property Litigation Group.
The case is Audiology Distribution LLC, et al. v. Peter Stephens, et al., No. 8:20-cv-00499, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.