Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Simplivity Corp. v. Bondranko

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

August 31, 2016

SIMPLIVITY CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARD BONDRANKO, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          ALLISON D. BURROUGHS U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         Plaintiff SimpliVity Corporation (“SimpliVity”) brings this action against its former employee, Richard Bondranko, to enforce the confidentiality and non-competition provisions of the Proprietary Information and Inventions Agreement (the “PIIA”) signed by Mr. Bondranko at the start of his employment with SimpliVity. On May 31, 2016, after spending approximately a year-and-a-half as a Technical Support Manager at SimpliVity, Mr. Bondranko began working in a similar position at Nutanix, Inc. (“Nutanix”). SimpliVity alleges that Mr. Bondranko breached the PIIA by working at Nutanix, and seeks both injunctive relief and damages.

         Currently pending is SimpliVity's motion for a preliminary injunction. For the reasons stated herein, the preliminary injunction is GRANTED. Mr. Bondranko is ordered to cease his employment with Nutanix and is enjoined from being employed by or performing services for Nutanix for six months from the date of this Order. In addition, he is ordered to (1) refrain from using or disclosing SimpliVity's Proprietary Information, as defined in the PIIA; (2) immediately identify and return all Proprietary information in his possession, custody, or control; (3) verify that (a) all Proprietary Information has been returned to SimpliVity, (b) no Proprietary Information has been retained by him, and (c) no Proprietary Information in his possession, custody or control has been deleted or destroyed; (4) produce a log to SimpliVity describing any Proprietary Information previously in his possession, custody, or control that has been deleted or destroyed since he resigned from SimpliVity; (5) preserve and not destroy any of the contents of his personal email sent or received between May 1, 2016 and July 1, 2016, until produced in discovery or this litigation is closed; and, (6) for six months from the date of this Order, refrain from soliciting any person to end their employment with SimpliVity or from soliciting any person who has worked for SimpliVity within the last six months to join Nutanix.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         SimpliVity is a technology start-up based in Westborough, Massachusetts that develops and sells products aimed at simplifying IT for businesses by converging a number of functionalities of numerous disparate products, including server, storage, IT protection and management, into “all-in-one” products. [ECF No. 5 (“Compl.”) ¶¶ 4, 9, 12]. Its products are sold in the “hyperconverged IT infrastructure and software defined data center markets” and have been sold to customers around the world. Id. ¶ 14.

         Mr. Bondranko began working at SimpliVity on January 19, 2015 as a Technical Support Manager. Id. ¶ 26. In this position, Mr. Bondranko managed SimpliVity's technical support engineers. [ECF No. 34 (“Day 3 Tr.”) at 41]. Working from Raleigh, North Carolina, Mr. Bondranko oversaw the engineers who responded to and resolved technical problems that existing customers had with SimpliVity's products. Mr. Bondranko did not have a sales role and he generally did not interact directly with SimpliVity's customers. He does not have a technical background and was not responsible for actually fixing customer's problems. His primary role was to work behind the scenes to supervise SimpliVity's technical support team and coordinate SimpliVity's responses to customers' technical issues.

         Occasionally, when a customer became dissatisfied with SimpliVity's technical support, the case would be “escalated, ” at which point Mr. Bondranko would work more closely with the customer to assess the problem and manage SimpliVity's response. Day 3 Tr. at 43. These escalated cases were the only instances in which Mr. Bondranko communicated directly with SimpliVity's customers. For some of the escalated cases, Mr. Bondranko also helped draft an incident report, a confidential document summarizing the performance issue and corrective actions taken by SimpliVity. [ECF No. 40 (“Day 2 Tr.”) at 42-43]. Mr. Bondranko was also responsible for preparing “aging cases reports, ” which tracked technical support cases that had been open and unresolved for over a month. Day 3 Tr. at 49; Compl. ¶ 41.

         All SimpliVity employees are assigned to one of seven levels of access to confidential information based on their job responsibilities. Day 2 Tr. at 17. As a technical support manager, Mr. Bondranko was assigned to the second highest level of access. Id. at 17-18. At this level, Mr. Bondranko had access to SimpliVity's password-protected Salesforce database, a customer relations management tool used by the sales department to track current customers, as well as sales leads and other salesforce information. Id. at 46.

         On his first day of work at SimpliVity, as a condition of his employment, Mr. Bondranko executed the PIIA. [ECF No. 4-1]. SimpliVity requires all of its employees to enter into PIIAs. Day 2 Tr. at 58. Under the PIIA, Mr. Bondranko agreed to: (1) not disclose or use any of SimpliVity's Proprietary Information outside the scope of his employment;[1] and (2) not work for a Competing Business for a period of one year immediately following termination of his employment at SimpliVity.[2] Specifically, Mr. Bondranko agreed to “hold in confidence and not disclose to anyone or, except within the scope of [his] employment, use any Proprietary Information.” Id. at 3. He further agreed that, for a period of one-year following termination, he would not “directly or indirectly . . . act in Any Capacity in or with respect to any Competing Business located within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the rest of the region known as New England, the rest of the United States, or anywhere else in the world, ” and that he would inform SimpliVity of the identity of his future employers. Id. at 4.

         Mr. Bondranko resigned from SimpliVity on May 16, 2016. Compl. ¶ 3. He had been looking for a new job since April, because he was concerned about his job security, and ultimately accepted a job in the North Carolina call center of Nutanix, another technology startup in the hyperconvergence space. Day 3 Tr. at 36-37. On the day of his resignation, when asked if he was going to work for a competitor, Mr. Bondranko declined to identify his new employer, and as result, SimpliVity terminated Mr. Bondranko's employment that day, without allowing him to stay for the two-week notice period. Day 3 Tr. at 45.

         Mr. Bondranko began working at Nutanix on May 31, 2016, as Manager, Global Technical Support. [ECF No. 11 (“Bondranko Decl.”) ¶ 12]. His job is similar to one he had at SimpliVity; he manages a team of support engineers in Nutanix's North Carolina call center, who handle existing customers' issues with Nutanix's products. Id.

         SimpliVity did not confirm that Mr. Bondranko had joined Nutanix until June 28, 2016. Compl. ¶ 56. SimpliVity contends that a forensic analysis of Mr. Bondranko's SimpliVity laptop revealed that Mr. Bondranko had visited my.nutanix.com, a Nutanix portal requiring a username and password, prior to turning in his laptop on his last day of employment with SimpliVity and that he had continued to access his SimpliVity Salesforce account on multiple occasions while employed at Nutanix. Id. ¶¶ 51, 54. SimpliVity also alleges that prior to resigning, Mr. Bondranko emailed documents containing SimpliVity's Proprietary Information to his personal email account, including an aged cases presentation, which he sent to himself on May 3, 2016, after he had already contacted a recruiter. Id. ¶ 52. He also allegedly uploaded an unknown number of documents from his SimpliVity laptop to a high-capacity storage drive on May 13, 2016, and uploaded two customer incident reports to his Dropbox account on the day he resigned. Id. ¶¶ 52, 53.

         In a complaint that was first brought in state court on June 30, 2016 [ECF No. 5], and removed to federal court on July 1, 2016 [ECF No. 1], SimpliVity alleges that by leaving to work for Nutanix, and taking SimpliVity's confidential information with him, Mr. Bondranko has breached the non-disclosure and non-competition provisions of the PIIA. They claim that “Bondranko's vast knowledge of SimpliVity's strengths and weaknesses, customer response history, security measures, and near-term product road map will provide Nutanix with ample basis to sow new [fear, uncertainty, and doubt] into the marketplace.” Compl. ¶ 58.

         SimpliVity's complaint, which seeks damages and injunctive relief, contains four counts: breach of contract (Count I); breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing (Count II); misappropriation of confidential information and trade secrets, under the common law (Count III) and under Mass. Gen. L. 93 §§ 42 and 42A (Count IV). A trial has been scheduled for December 5, 2016.

         Currently pending is SimpliVity's motion for a preliminary injunction, filed on July 11, 2016. [ECF No. 13]. SimpliVity has requested that the Court order Mr. Bondranko to: (1) cease his employment with Nutanix and not perform any services for Nutanix until May 15, 2017; (2) not use or disclose SimpliVity's Proprietary Information; (3) identify and return any SimpliVity Proprietary Information in his possession, custody or control; (4) immediately make available to SimpliVity all storage drives that he attached to his SimpliVity computer; (5) provide access for SimpliVity to the Dropbox account referenced in the Complaint; (6) identify the physical and/or electronic locations where all SimpliVity Proprietary Information controlled by Mr. Bondranko resided following his resignation from SimpliVity; (7) verify that (a) all SimpliVity Proprietary Information has been returned to SimpliVity, (b) no Proprietary Information has been retained by him, and (c) no SimpliVity Proprietary Information in his possession, custody or control has been deleted or destroyed; (8) produce a log to SimpliVity describing any SimpliVity Proprietary Information in Bondranko's possession, custody, or control that has been deleted or destroyed in the past sixty days; (9) preserve and not destroy the contents of his personal email account(s) and social media account; and (10) refrain from soliciting any person to end their employment with SimpliVity, or from soliciting any person who has worked for SimpliVity within the last six months to join Nutanix. Id. at 4-5.

         Mr. Bondranko opposed the motion on July 13, 2016 [ECF No. 10], and the Court heard evidence and argument over the course of several days in July ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.