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Industrial Packaging Supplies Inc. v. Davidson

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division

February 22, 2019

Industrial Packaging Supplies, Inc., Plaintiff,
v.
Geordy Davidson, John England, Stephen Schroeder, Cory Perry, Quinn Davidson, Michael Schmitt, Jason Nettles, DBE Solutions, LLC, and Axis Packaging, LLC, Defendants.

          ORDER

          TIMOTHY M. CAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court on the Motion to Compel and for the Entry of a Forensic Protocol filed by Plaintiff Industrial Packaging Supplies, Inc. (“IPS”). (ECF No. 72). IPS and Defendants Geordy Davidson, John England, DBE Solutions, LLC, Axis Packaging, LLC, Davidson Brothers Equity, LLC, and Viking Packaging, LLC, consented to a protocol for discovery. (ECF No. 184). However, Defendants Stephen Schroeder, Cory Perry, Quinn Davidson, and Michael Schmitt (“Remaining Defendants”) did not consent. (ECF No. 176 at 1 n.1).[1]

         On July 31, 2018, the court granted the parties' Consent Motion to Appoint a Special Master pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 53 to oversee discovery and discovery disputes in this action, including the instant motion (ECF No. 83). (ECF No. 87 at 1). The parties informed the Special Master that, in regard to this motion, that only the issue of the forensics protocol remains. (ECF No. 186 at 3 n.2). On January 28, 2019, counsel submitted brief position papers to the Special Master as to this remaining issue. (ECF Nos. 188, 189).[2] On January 30, 2019, the Special Master filed a Report and Recommendation (“Report”) recommending that the court grant IPS's Motion to Compel and for the Entry of a Forensic Protocol (ECF No. 72) as set forth in the Report. (ECF No. 186). On February 5, 2019, the Remaining Defendants filed Objections. (ECF No. 190). On February 13, 2019, IPS filed its Response to the Remaining Defendants' Objections. (ECF No. 191). The matter is now ripe for resolution.

         I. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 53(f) provides:

(3) Reviewing Factual Findings. The court must decide de novo all objections to findings of fact made or recommended by a master, unless the parties, with the court's approval, stipulate that:
(A) the findings will be reviewed for clear error; or
(B) the findings of a master appointed under Rule 53(a)(1)(A) or (C) will be final.
(4) Reviewing Legal Conclusions. The court must decide de novo all objections to conclusions of law made or recommended by a master.
(5) Reviewing Procedural Matters. Unless the appointing order establishes a different standard of review, the court may set aside a master's ruling on a procedural matter only for an abuse of discretion.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 53(f)(3)-(5)(emphasis in original).

         II. Background

         IPS is a distributor of packaging supplies, equipment, and services. (ECF No. 91 at 2). Defendant DBE Solutions, LLC, (“DBE”), which was established on April 17, 2017, and Defendant Axis Packaging, LLC, (“Axis”), which was established October 11, 2017, are also alleged to be in the packaging industry. Id. at 2. Both Axis and DBE were formed by, among others, Defendants Geordy Davidson and England, former sales executives for IPS. Id. at 10. Davidson is president of Axis, and England is the General Manager at Axis. Id. Geordy, Davidson, and England signed non-disclosure, non-solicitation and non-compete agreements (collectively “Agreements”) while working for IPS. Id. at 11. The Remaining Defendants are all former IPS employees who worked for IPS in Greenville, and they also signed Agreements while working for IPS. Id. at 2, 4. IPS contends that these Defendants were also subsequently employed by DBE. Id. In its Amended Complaint, IPS alleges various claims based on its contention that Defendants violated their Agreements and misappropriated confidential, proprietary, and trade secret information. Id. at 41-63. IPS seeks, inter alia, a permanent injunction and damages. Id. at 64-68.

         III. ...


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