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Prezio Health Inc. v. John Schenk and Spectrum Surgical Instruments Corp.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 22, 2016

PREZIO HEALTH INC., Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN SCHENK and SPECTRUM SURGICAL INSTRUMENTS CORP., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          WARREN W. EGINTON, Senior District Judge.

         In this action, plaintiff Prezio Health Inc. alleges breach of contract and violation of Connecticut's Uniform Trade Secrets Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 35-50 et seq, against former employee, defendant John Schenk. Plaintiff also alleges tortious interference with contractual relations against Schenk's current employer, defendant Spectrum Surgical Instruments Corp. Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, defendants' motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

         BACKGROUND

         The parties' statements of facts and exhibits reveal the following factual background

         Plaintiff has multiple business units focused on suppling hospitals with (1) capital equipment and technicians; (2) handheld surgical instrument service; (3) endoscopic equipment; and (4) sterile processing department optimization.

         Schenk began working as an hourly instrument repair technician for plaintiff's predecessor on or about July 7, 1998. Until 2013, Schenk primarily worked as a surgical instrument repair technician out of plaintiff's Michigan repair center. From approximately 2002 to 2003, Schenk worked as a mobile van technician in downtown Detroit, Michigan. During that time, he serviced Detroit Medical Center ("DMC"). Starting in late 2011 or early 2012, Schenk served in a supervisory position as a senior lead technician, responsible for DMC. Schenk had access to Prezio's price file for DMC.

         Defendants contend that Schenk's work was focused on instrument repair, but plaintiff responds that Schenk's role included costumer contact that provided sales opportunities.

         In March 2011, Schenk executed an employment agreement with plaintiff.

         The "Covenant Not to Compete" in the agreement provides, inter alia, that Schenk shall not

         (ii) engage in, assist, perform services for, or provide consulting services to any other person, firm, corporation or other entity in the solicitation of or contract with, any customer, vendor, potential customer, or potential vendor of [Prezio] that was known in the performance of job duties with [Prezio] for the purpose of furnishing or during business with any such customer or vendor with regard to medical-surgical services, equipment or any other services or products distributed by or otherwise provided by [Prezio] and/or

         (iii) accept employment with, or service as a consultant, advisor, or act in [] any other capacity to any other person, firm, corporation or any entity that is in competition with [Prezio]

         (vi) solicit or engage in business transactions with any person, firm, corporation, joint venture or other business entity that was at any time during the prior two years before such solicitation or engagement, a customer of or vendor to [Prezio] or its affiliates.

         In December 2012, Schenk relocated to Connecticut but continued to work for plaintiff. In June 2013, plaintiff transferred Schenk to the role of Regional Service Lead. In that position, Schenk was not involved in any high level business negotiations on behalf of plaintiff. However, while in Connecticut, Schenk helped Prezio perform a trial of its services for Bon Secours Hospital in Suffern, New York, as part of Prezio's attempt to secure a contract with Bon Secours.

         Schenk resigned from plaintiff, effective August 30, 2013. A few weeks before his departure, Schenk sent multiple Prezio documents to his private email address, including a ten page pricing list, a field contact list and territory map, a list detailing potential customer leads, and a chart of Prezio's sales contract review process.

         Since 1983, defendant Spectrum has been providing a full line of surgical instrument care products, medical cleaning brushes and surgical instrument accessories. It is an industry leader for medical products, such as needle holders, surgical scissors, surgical forceps, as well as surgical instrument services and decontamination solutions. Spectrum offers a full range of surgical instrument repair services, from instrument sharpening and restoration to more advanced repairs. Spectrum serves hospitals, surgery centers and veterinary centers across the United States.

         Hospitals that use contractors such as Spectrum or Prezio for instrument care generally use a ...


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