BLACKFOOT — Earlier this week a jury in Bannock County and Idaho's Sixth Judicial District found two former employees of Premier Technology guilty of violating the Idaho Trade Secrets Act.
In a case dating from late 2007, Chadd Orr and Jeff Schutte were accused of conspiring with Petersen, Inc., an Ogden, Utah-based competitor to Premier Technology, to damage Premier's customer base in an effort to devalue it and eventually buy it.
Attorney Craig Hoggan, of the Salt Lake City, Utah-based law firm of Dart, Adamson and Donovan, said the trial lasted two weeks. The jury awarded Premier Technology approximately $2 million in damages .
"I'm pleased with the judgment," said Doug Sayer, Premier Technology's president and chief operating officer. "I'm pleased that there are 12 people in Bannock County who agree with our philosophy that it's important to protect trade secrets in Idaho."
Hoggan said Orr and Schutte were senior managers at Premier Technology in 2007. Company officials accused them of downloading proprietary information and related secrets when they left Premier Technology. They then joined Petersen, Inc., which now has a facility in Pocatello.
One of the main charges against both men was that they breached the fiduciary duty duties they had owed to Premier Technology while they were high level managers. The jury found that Petersen, Inc. aided and abetted Orr and Schutte to breach their fiduciary duties to Premier Technology.
Sayer said Premier Technology sued the two men and their new company for two reasons. "First, we needed to protect the company. And, we needed to protect our employees."
Sayer said security measures were in place at the time of the men left, but, as senior managers, the two had the ability to circumvent those measures.
"You need to have a certain level of trust," he said. "It was an inside job and those are tough things to deal with. The damage was extraordinary.
"If Idaho is going to prosper," Sayer said, "we need to have confidence that our laws and rules are going to be enforced. If we ignore those rules, companies will have no confidence in doing business in our state."