United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, St. Joseph Division
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY
D. SMITH, SENIOR JUDGE.
is Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction. Doc.
#116. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion for
preliminary injunction is denied.
Porters Building Centers, Inc. sells building supplies and
lumber to commercial contractors and homebuilders in Missouri
and Kansas. Porters' stores are located in Kearney,
Cameron, and Laurie, Missouri; and Elwood, Kansas. In 2003,
Defendant Jerry Downey began working for Plaintiff.
Defendants Ray Meng, Jess Reynolds, and Sheila Higdon began
working for Porters in 2003, 2007, and 2010, respectively.
These four individuals (“Former Employees”)
worked at Porters' Elwood store. Upon hiring, the Former
Employees signed acknowledgments indicating they received a
copy of Porters' handbook. Doc. #1-2. Both the handbook
and the acknowledgment stated the handbook was not a contract
and did not create contractual obligations between Porters
and its employees. Id. The handbook and
acknowledgments also informed employees that policies could
be changed by management without prior notice. Id.
The Former Employees did not execute non-compete,
non-solicitation, or non-disclosure agreements with Porters.
Downey, Higdon, and Reynolds resigned from their employment
with Porters on April 22, 2016. Meng resigned from his
employment on April 28, 2016.
2, 2016, the Former Employees began working for Defendant
Sprint Lumber, Inc. Sprint Lumber sells lumber and building
materials to commercial builders from its locations in St.
Joseph and Platte City, Missouri. Defendant Scott Laderoute
is the president and owner of Sprint Lumber. In December
2015, Downey reached out to Sprint Lumber about potential
employment. From January 2016 through April 2016, Downey and
Laderoute communicated about Downey and other employees
leaving Porters and joining Sprint Lumber. Eventually,
Reynolds and Higdon also began communicating with Sprint
Lumber about potential employment.
to their resignation from Porters, the Former Employees
communicated with several customers they serviced at Porters
regarding their impending move to Sprint Lumber. Higdon and
Reynolds provided Sprint Lumber credit applications to
several Porters' customers while still employed with
Porters. Many of these customers had worked with Higdon and
Reynolds for several years, and had moved their business to
Porters when Higdon and Reynolds became employees of Porters.
The Former employees did not take orders for Sprint Lumber
from Porters' customers while they were still employed
with Porters. Other facts specific to the claims related to
the pending preliminary injunction motion will be discussed
9, 2016, Porters initiated this lawsuit and sought a
temporary restraining order. Docs. #1-2. On May 12, 2016, the
Court denied Porters' motion for temporary restraining
order. Doc. #8. On May 23, 2016, Porters filed its First
Amended Verified Petition for Damages and Injunctive Relief,
asserting nine claims against Defendants. Doc. #9. The
parties undertook discovery in support of Porters'
pursuit of a preliminary injunction. On October 19, 2016,
Porters filed its motion for preliminary injunction, seeking
injunctive relief related to its claims of computer
tampering, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of duty
of loyalty, and tortious interference with business
expectancy. Doc. #116. This motion became fully briefed and
ripe for consideration on December 5, 2016. A hearing on
Plaintiff's motion was held on December 14 and 15, 2016,
at which counsel and all parties appeared. The parties also
submitted proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Docs. #179, 181-82, 185-86.
preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy, and the
burden of establishing the propriety of an injunction is on
the movant.” Watkins Inc. v. Lewis, 346 F.3d
841, 844 (8th Cir. 2003) (internal citation omitted). In
deciding whether to grant or deny a motion for preliminary
injunction, the Court must consider four factors: (1) the
movant's likelihood of success on the merits; (2) the
irreparable harm the movant will suffer if preliminary relief
is not granted; (3) the balance of hardships to the parties;
and (4) the impact of the injunction on the public interest.
Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7,
20 (2008); Dataphase Sys., Inc. v. CL Sys. Inc., 640
F.2d 109, 114 (8th Cir. 1981) (en banc).
Likelihood of Success on the Merits
most important of the preliminary injunction factors is the
plaintiff's likelihood of success on the merits.
Shrink Mo. Gov't PAC v. Adams, 151 F.3d 763, 764
(8th Cir. 1998). At the preliminary injunction stage, the
movant must establish “a substantial likelihood of
prevailing on the merits of [its] claim.”
Phelps-Roper v. Nixon, 509 F.3d 480, 485 (8th Cir.
2007). This Court, however, need not decide whether the
movant will ultimately succeed on its claims. See Noodles
Dev., LP v. Ninth St. Partners, LLP, 507 F.Supp.2d 1030,
1034 (E.D. Mo. 2007) (citing Glenwood Bridge, Inc. v.
City of Minneapolis, 940 F.2d 367, 371 (8th Cir. 1991)).
seeks an injunction with regard to its computer tampering
claim. Porters contends the following conduct equates to
computer tampering: (1) Downey's and Higdon's copying
of data from their Porters-issued cell phones to their Sprint
Lumber cell phones; (2) Higdon's deletion of all data
from her Porters-issued cell phone; and (3) Downey's
deletion of thousands of emails from his Porters-issued email
owner of a computer system may bring a civil action against
any person who violates the Missouri Computer Tampering ...