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Dresser-Rand Co. v. Jones

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 23, 2013

DRESSER-RAND COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
G. CURTIS JONES, JEFFREY KING, ALBERT E. WADSWORTH, IV, and GLOBAL POWER SPECIALIST, INC., Defendants

For DRESSER-RAND COMPANY, Plaintiff: MICHAEL JONATHAN PUMA, LEAD ATTORNEY, JONATHAN SPELLS KRAUSE, MORGAN LEWIS & BOCKIUS LLP, PHILADELPHIA, PA; NANCY L. PATTERSON, LEAD ATTORNEY, LITTLER MENDELSON, HOUSTON, TX.

OPINION

Page 611

MEMORANDUM

ANITA B. BRODY, J.

Plaintiff Dresser-Rand Company (" Dresser-Rand" ) brings a variety of claims against G. Curtis Jones, Jeffrey King, Albert E. Wadsworth, IV, and Global Power Specialist, Inc. (" Global Power" ), including a claim for violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030 (" the CFAA" ). [1] I exercise jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Defendants filed a partial motion for summary judgment against Plaintiff on the CFAA claims. See ECF No.72. For the reasons stated below I will grant Defendants' partial motion for summary judgment.

I. BACKGROUND[2]

G. Curtis Jones and Jeffrey King worked as managers for the Dresser-Rand Company, a $2 billion corporation that provides technology, product and services used for developing energy and natural resources. Dresser-Rand's business includes manufacturing industrial equipment and field services operations to maintain and service industrial equipment for Dresser-Rand clients who own power plants, industrial plants and refineries. Jones resigned from Dresser-Rand on February 9, 2010 from his position as Regional Field Services Manager. King resigned from Dresser-Rand on February 26, 2010 from his position as Project Manager.

On January 20, 2010, prior to the resignations of Jones and King, Albert Wadsworth incorporated Global Power Specialist, Inc. and became Global Power's president. Jones and King became Global Power's two employees. Global Power performs field services work to fix gas turbines. Jones and King had Global Power cellphones and e-mail addresses and performed work to benefit Global Power before they resigned from Dresser-Rand. Before Jones and King left Dresser-Rand, they downloaded Dresser-Rand documents to external hard drives and flash drives. Dresser-Rand's forensic computer expert found that on multiple occasions from December 2009 through February 2010 Jones and King downloaded Dresser-Rand files onto at least five external devices. They downloaded the files days before they each resigned. [3]

Page 612

On February 25, 2010, King e-mailed to Wadsworth, " I shit canned everything on my computer since I have to turn it in tomorrow." Pl. Ex. J.

Dresser-Rand's computer expert found that thousands of Dresser-Rand's files were transferred from the external devices to Global Power's computers. Defendants accessed some of these files from Global Power computers after they left Dresser-Rand. Wadsworth received emails from Jones and King sent from their Dresser-Rand computers containing Dresser-Rand business information. He reviewed and edited some of these documents.

Dresser-Rand's Director of Services for the Mid-Atlantic Region Glenn " Chip" Jones stated that he had " no reason to believe that [Jones and King] accessed information other than what they had authorized access to do through their Dresser-Rand user name and password." Def. Ex. A 191:23-25, 192:2-5. Chip Jones testified as an individual. Pl. Response at 5 n.5.

Dresser-Rand has several policies that govern employee use of Dresser-Rand resources and information. These policies include a Code of Conduct that covers conflicts of interest, competition and fair dealing, confidentiality, privacy, protection and proper use of company assets, and other topics. Pl. Ex. B. Dresser-Rand's Internet Access and Usage Policy provides that unauthorized use of the internet includes " [s]ending, receiving or posting without authorization company-sensitive or privileged information . . ." . Ex. G. Dresser-Rand's Acceptable Use Policy states that " Any unauthorized use, disclosure or transmission of [protected] information or content is prohibited. Users are required to comply with all applicable laws, agreements and Company policies before placing any information of a proprietary, confidential, or trade secret nature into Dresser-Rand's computers." Pl. Ex. H at 2. Each time Dresser-Rand employees log on to a company computer, they must acknowledge and accepts the company's " Legal Notice and Acceptable Use Statement" :

This is a Dresser-Rand (D-R) System. This computer system, including all related equipment, networks, and network devices (specifically including Internet access) are provided solely for the purpose of authorized D-R business use. Any use or activity that jeopardizes the integrity of the equipment, violates any Company policy, or is not in the best interests of the Company, is strictly prohibited. There is no confidentiality or privilege when used for personal rather than Company or work related communications . . . All information entered into this computer system is D-R property and may constitute D-R confidential information. By continuing to use this system you indicate your awareness of and consent to these terms and conditions of use.

Pl. Ex. I.

Defendants filed a partial motion for summary judgment on November 9, 2010 concerning the CFAA claims only. On December 16, 2010 the case was placed in

Page 613

suspense pending conclusion of a related criminal investigation. On April 16, 2013, Plaintiff notified the Court that the criminal investigation concluded and that Defendants would not be charged.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment will be granted " if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is " material" if it " might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law . . . ." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A factual dispute is " genuine" if the evidence would permit a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The nonmoving party must then " make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of [every] element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Id. at 322. However, the nonmoving party may not " rely merely upon bare assertions, conclusory allegations or suspicions" to support its claims. Fireman's Ins. Co. of Newark, N.J. v. DuFresne , 676 F.2d 965, 969 (3d Cir. 1982).

In essence, the inquiry at summary judgment is " whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson , 477 U.S. at 251-52.

III. DISCUSSION

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act prohibits seven types of computer crimes mainly involving accessing computers without authorization or in excess of authorization, and then obtaining information or damaging computer data. 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a). The statute, enacted by Congress in 1984, was originally exclusively a criminal statute. Since then the statute has been amended several times, including in 1994, when Congress amended the act to add a civil provision. Computer Abuse Amendments Act of 1994, Pub. L. No. 103-322, § ...


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