Willenken Vigorously Defends Electric Vehicle Start-Up Team Against Aggressive Opponent

Willenken never fails to persist through a complex case and come out at the end with an optimal result under our belt. This holds true for an arduous trade secrets case which Willenken successfully resolved as part of a broader joint defense team on behalf of nine individuals in the envolving autonomous electric vehicle industry.

Several executives and employees left a nascent electric vehicle technology company to form their own electric vehicle start-up. Their former company promptly accused them of allegations of misappropriation of trade secrets, violation of non-solicitation and confidentiality obligations, and breach of fiduciary duties in arbitration. One of the key contested issues was the enforceability of the broad anti-solicitation provision in the respondents’ employment contracts, and whether it violated California Bus. & Prof. Code § 16600, which is designed to protect employee mobility.

In February 2018, the start-up retained Willenken to represent the nine individual defendants. Shortly after, the plaintiff’s counsel was replaced by a BigLaw litigation giant. As the case pursued, Willenken provided our clients with meaningful, strategic counsel and defended against the plaintiff’s most aggressive discovery tactics. Amelia Sargent served as lead counsel for the nine defendants and kept the defense toe-to-toe with the BigLaw firm’s relentless excesses.

Amelia successfully brought a demurrer that forced the plaintiff to file a Third Amended Demand and started a new clock on document productions. Under her lead, the Willenken team fanned out to cover all basis and stay two steps ahead of the plaintiff in forensic discovery. Sherin Varghese deftly handled forensic collections and productions for all nine clients, organizing over 70 different media. Jason Wilson handled some of the many inordinate discovery motions, while Mayra de Aguiar organized the defendants’ cross-claim.

Finally, the plaintiff blinked: It was in dire financial straits and the BigLaw firm’s scorched-earth tactics were costing too much. The BigLaw firm abruptly went pencils down and ultimately withdrew for nonpayment, forcing the plaintiff to come to the table. The joint defense team reached a global and highly favorable settlement for the arbitration against our nine individual clients, the federal matter which the plaintiff had filed, and the state matter which the defendants’ company had filed, all in one go. After months of perseverance, Willenken proved that working side-by-side with our clients and joint defense counsel, while never losing sight of our clients’ best interest, will obtain the optimal result at the end.