Greenberg Traurig Obtains a Supreme Court of Georgia Decision on an Issue of First Impression

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Greenberg Traurig Obtains a Supreme Court of Georgia Decision on an Issue of First Impression

The international law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP announced today that it obtained a decision in favor of its client, Michael Holton, in the case of Holton v. Physician Oncology Services LP, in the Supreme Court of Georgia (Case No. S13A0012). In its May 6, 2013 decision, the Supreme Court addressed an issue of first impression and reversed the trial court’s determination that Georgia had recognized a stand-alone claim based on the “inevitable disclosure” of trade secrets. The Supreme Court explicitly held that no such claim exists in Georgia because inevitable disclosure in not an “independent claim under which a trial court may enjoin an employee from working for an employer or disclosing trade secrets.”

David W. Long-Daniels, Co-Chair of Greenberg Traurig, LLP’s global Labor & Employment Practice and Chair of the Atlanta Labor & Employment Practice, Michael J, King, Co-Chair of the Atlanta Business Litigation Practice, and Associate Peter Hall represented the appellant, Michael Holton, in the appeal, which stemmed from the grant of an interlocutory injunction prohibiting Holton from working for one year in an executive capacity for Radiation Oncology Services of America, Inc., a competitor of Vantage Oncology, LLC, Holton’s former employer. The trial court had entered the underlying interlocutory injunction in part on the basis that Vantage Oncology, LLC was likely to succeed on its claim that Holton would inevitably disclose trade secrets that he allegedly retained in his memory.

On appeal, the Supreme Court of Georgia found that the inevitable disclosure doctrine is not an independent claim under which a trial court may enjoin an employee from working for an employer or disclosing trade secrets, thereby reversing the trial court’s order enjoining Holton from working at Radiation Oncology Services of America, Inc. on that basis.

“We are pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling, which rejected the inevitable disclosure doctrine and thereby upheld the long-standing rule in Georgia requiring that parties demonstrate actual or threatened misappropriation of trade secrets,” said David Long-Daniels. “The decision strikes an appropriate balance between employee professional mobility and the rights of employers to hire from competition, as well as the rights of former employers to protect their trade secrets. The Court’s reasoning was very solid. Had it adopted the plaintiff’s suggestion, many executives would have been precluded from working for a competitor merely because they learned of an alleged trade secret during their employment. This is not the law in Georgia and the Court clarified that it never was the law. We will now direct our focus on the merits of this action and seek recovery from plaintiff.”

“The Georgia Supreme Court’s unanimous decision clarifies an issue of first impression concerning the existence of the inevitable disclosure doctrine as a basis for granting interlocutory injunctions,” said Mike King. “This is a great result for our client, and we are delighted that he can now move forward and focus on business matters.”

About Greenberg Traurig, LLP
Greenberg Traurig, LLP is an international, full-service law firm with approximately 1750 attorneys serving clients from 36 offices in the United States, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. In the U.S., the firm has more offices than any other among the Top 10 on The National Law Journal's 2012 NLJ 250. For additional information, please visit http://www.gtlaw.com.

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Kristi Detamore
Greenberg Traurig LLP
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