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Flotek Industries, Inc. v. Guide Energy Solutions, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

December 18, 2019

FLOTEK INDUSTRIES, INC., et al, Plaintiffs,
v.
GUIDE ENERGY SOLUTIONS LLC, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Hon. Charles Eskridge, United States District Judge

         Before the Court is Plaintiff Flotek Industries' ex parte motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. Dkt 5.

         Upon consideration, the Court denies the request for temporary restraining order. The Court reserves judgment on the request for preliminary injunction until after service of process and hearing.

         1. Background

         Flotek is in the oilfield chemical technologies business. Defendants Cody Coomer, Cody Sutton, Hasnain Saboowala, and Justin Vaughn are former employees of Flotek. Flotek alleges that they misappropriated its confidential business information and trade secrets. Flotek also alleges that they are at the helm of a new competitor, Defendant Guide Energy Solutions, LLC, in violation of their noncompete agreements.

         Defendants resigned from Flotek in April 2019. Dkt 5 at 5. Flotek has apparently been aware of the concerns at the heart of its now-requested emergency relief for quite some time.

         In August 2019, four months after resignation and four months prior to seeking relief, “Flotek learned of Guide Energy Solutions via its profile on LinkedIn.” Id. at 14. The LinkedIn profile page included a picture of Coomer participating in Guide Energy safety training. “It then became apparent that Coomer had violated” his noncompete agreement, Flotek asserts. Id. at 15. Certain Flotek employees connected to individual defendants on LinkedIn were also able to see each time they “liked” or “shared” a post made by Guide Energy. Dkt 5-18 at 7-8. That activity would show up on the Flotek employees' LinkedIn newsfeed pages-meaning that Flotek was aware of LinkedIn posts about Guide Energy without having to visit the Guide Energy page directly. Ibid.

         Flotek's motion indicates the extent and duration of its detailed knowledge: “In August and September 2019, two invoices from a third party data analytics provider, attentioned to Saboowala on behalf of Guide Energy, were inadvertently sent to his old Flotek email address (still maintained and monitored by Flotek), making it clear that Saboowala was also part of the secret scheme relating to Guide Energy.” Dkt 5 at 17.

         In June 2019, Flotek had provided a price quote to one of its customers. Later in September, that customer informed Flotek that it would purchase products from Sutton and his company. Dkt 5-18 at 12.

         By October 2019, Guide Energy had posted on its LinkedIn profile page a photograph of Vaughn, Coomer, and Sutton. Dkt 5 at 16.

         Flotek's motion obscures the date, but also asserts that it conducted an internal investigation of the individual defendants' activities leading up to their resignations. Id. at 5. Through this investigation, Flotek allegedly discovered that some of them had transmitted to and stored on their personal Dropbox and email accounts highly confidential and proprietary information of Flotek relating to customer lists, contact information, financial projections, sales volume, and pricing. Id. at 5-6. Investigation of Guide Energy revealed that it was formed two days after Coomer and Sutton resigned from Flotek, that it is a direct competitor of Flotek, and that it was already offering competing products and services three months after formation. Id. at 15-16.

         On December 16, 2019, Flotek filed the instant action against its former employees and Guide Energy. Flotek asserts violations under the Trade Secrets Act, the Texas Uniform Trade Secret Act, and various Texas common law causes of action including breach of contract. Dkt 1 at 40-57. The same day, Flotek filed this ex parte motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. Dkt 5. Broadly speaking, Flotek requests that defendants refrain from destroying, deleting, moving, or altering documents or evidence relating to Flotek; return any and all confidential Flotek information; and refrain from using any Flotek confidential information.

         2. Legal standard

         Flotek requests both an ex parte temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction. To prevail on such a request, the Fifth ...


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