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Athenahealth, Inc. v. May

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

August 10, 2017

Athenahealth, Inc., Plaintiff,
v.
Lauren May, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge

         This case arises from an employment dispute between Athenahealth, Inc. (“Athena” or “plaintiff”) and its former employee, Lauren May (“May” or “defendant”) in which Athena alleges that May failed to return, upon her termination, a laptop computer provided to her by Athena for her work.

         May moves to dismiss Athena's claims against her for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the reasons that follow, defendant's motion will be denied.

         I. Background

         Athena, a Delaware corporation with its principle place of business in Watertown, Massachusetts, is a nationwide provider of web-based healthcare management services. To meet client needs as well as to find new clients, Athena invests in acquiring and maintaining a significant amount of information about former, current and prospective clients.

         May began working for Athena in or about November, 2011 at the Watertown, Massachusetts office. She later transferred to Athena's Princeton, New Jersey office on an unspecified date. Sometime thereafter May began working remotely from her home in New Jersey but, in or about June, 2016, the employment relationship was terminated.

         Section 1 of an employment agreement entered into by May and Athena (“the Agreement”) when she began working for Athena, provides that May “will immediately return to Athena all [documents, data, property and confidential information]” upon request or termination.

         Relevant to the pending motion, Sections 8 and 10 of the Agreement relate to dispute resolution. Specifically, in Section 8 of the Agreement, Athena reserved the right to pursue equitable relief, “in addition to any other rights and remedies it may have” in court. Section 10, meanwhile, provides that:

[except under] Section 8, any dispute . . . concerning Employee's employment with or separation from Athena will be referred to mediation . . . . [before being] brought in a court of competent jurisdiction in the state in which the office to which Employee reports is located.

         Upon termination, May failed to return a laptop computer that Athena provided her for work. Moreover, she allegedly downloaded Athena's confidential information and sent it to her personal e-mail account shortly before the end of her employment. Athena alleges that these actions constitute 1) a violation of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”), 18 U.S.C. § 1836 (Count I), 2) breaches of contract and the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing (Counts II and III, respectively), 3) misappropriation (Counts IV and V), 4) breach of fiduciary duty (Count VI) and 5) conversion (Count VII).

         Athena filed its complaint against May in August, 2016. The following day, it moved for an emergency temporary restraining order (“TRO”) requesting that May be required to return the laptop she had kept. A TRO was entered by United States District Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV on September 2, 2016, directing May to return the subject computer or otherwise retain custody but refrain from using it. The computer was purportedly then transferred to the custody of May's attorney.

         The TRO was extended by United States District Judge Indira Talwani until this session issued a preliminary injunction directing May to return the computer. On November 2, 2016, Athena filed a motion to find May in contempt for failure to return the computer in violation of the preliminary injunction. This session allowed that motion, in part, but denied it as moot the following day because May had apparently complied with the terms of the injunction.

         On January 6, 2017, May filed a motion to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. That motion is the subject of this memorandum.

         II. Defendant's ...


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