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Audio-Video Group, LLC v. Green

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

February 26, 2014



JAMES C. CACHERIS, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Audio-Video Group, LLC's ("AVG" or "Plaintiff") Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction. [Dkts. 2, 3.] For the following reasons, the Court will grant in part and deny in part Plaintiff's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and will set a date for a hearing on Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction.

I. Background

Plaintiff AVG is a Maryland company with its principal place of business in Frederick, Maryland. (Compl. [Dkt. 1] ¶ 1.) All of the membership interests in AVG are owned by Eric J. Johnson ("Johnson"), a citizen of Maryland. (Compl. ¶ 1.) AVG is an audiovisual systems integrator, which provides "audiovisual design and installation services, equipment rental and purchase, training and seminars" among other services to customers in Maryland, Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., Southern Pennsylvania and West Virginia. (Compl. ¶ 2.) Defendant Christopher Green ("Defendant" or "Green") was employed as a sales engineer at AVG from June 2006 until January 6, 2014. (Compl. ¶ 9.) In this capacity, Green sold to "prospective and actual buyers seeking audio and video solutions." (Compl. ¶ 9.) In his role at AVG, Green had access to non-public information regarding AVG's business models and customer base. (Compl. ¶ 12.)

At the time Green was first hired by AVG, he signed a Confidentiality Agreement, effective for a period of ten years after the date that AVG last disclosed confidential information to Green.[1] (Compl. ¶¶ 13, 16.) On January 6, 2014 AVG terminated Green. Shortly thereafter, AVG accessed Green's company laptop and found proposals and invoices for audio video services performed by Green for customers and potential customers of AVG. (Johnson Decl. [Dkt. 5] ¶ 25.) Thirty-four customers invoiced by Green were also customers to whom AVG had provided quotations or had actually provided audio video services. (Johnson Decl. ¶ 30.)

Additionally, AVG alleges that at the time Green was terminated he was in the process of quoting 29 separate projects to existing or potential customers. (Johnson Decl. ¶ 33.) Green returned only six of the files related to those projects. (Johnson Decl. ¶ 33.) AVG alleges that Green is now employed as a Sales Engineer for AV/COM Integrators, a competitor of AVG.

On February 18, 2014, AVG brought suit against Green alleging: (1) breach of the duty of loyalty; (2) tortious interference with business relationships; (3) breach of contract stemming from the Confidentiality Agreement; (4) violation of the Virginia Uniform Trade Secrets Act; (5) violation of the Maryland Uniform Trade Secrets Act; (6) conversion; and (7) accounting. [Dkt. 1.]

Contemporaneously with the filing of its Complaint, AVG filed a motion pursuant to Rule 65(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for a temporary restraining order ("TRO") and preliminary injunction that would: (1) prohibit Green from soliciting or providing audiovisual services to any customers or former customers of AVG; (2) order Green to return all property of AVG still in his possession; (3) enjoin Green from using his current cellphone number in connection with the provision of audiovisual services; (4) enjoin Green from disclosing confidential or proprietary information; and (5) direct Green to return to AVG the original and all copies of AVG's confidential and proprietary information. (Mot. for TRO and Preliminary Injunction [Dkts. 2-3].) AVG's motions were accompanied by a brief in support, [Dkt. 4], and the declaration of AVG's founder and president, Johnson, [Dkt. 5]. Also on February 18, 2014, a summons was issued to Green.[2] [Dkt. 7.]

On February 24, 2014, Defendant filed his First Motion to Continue February 25, 2014 Hearing. [Dkt. 10.] That same day, Plaintiff filed an affidavit in support of its motion for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order [Dkt. 12], and an opposition to Defendant's motion to continue, [Dkt 13.].

Plaintiff's motion for a TRO is now before the Court.

II. Standard of Review

"The standard for granting either a TRO or a preliminary injunction is the same." Moore v. Kempthorne, 464 F.Supp.2d 519, 525 (E.D. Va. 2006) (citations omitted). "A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest." Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Counsel, 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008); see also Real Truth About Obama, Inc. v. Fed. Election Comm'n, 575 F.3d 342, 346 (4th Cir. 2009) (citing Winter, 129 S.Ct. at 374), vacated on other grounds, 130 S.Ct. 2371 (2010), reinstated in relevant part, 607 F.3d 355 (4th Cir. 2010).

III. ...

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