The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Breaking News

Local News

February 22, 2014

Company claims info was stolen

PINE TOWNSHIP — A Pine Township company has filed a civil racketeering and conspiracy suit alleging an ex-employee downloaded company information, including customer lists, software instructions and internal drawings, and gave the information to his new employer, a competing firm.

Pine Instrument Co.’s ex-employee, Gordon Baker, said he downloaded the information while still employed by Pine to work on projects related to his job with Pine, and never gave any Pine information to his new employer, Controls USA Inc., of Georgia.

A federal judge began hearing testimony this week in Pine’s request for an injunction against Baker and Controls, and will resume the hearing Monday.

Pine and an affiliate, Pine Test Equipment LLC, both of 101 Industrial Drive, make and sell asphalt testing equipment and electrochemistry research equipment, according to the complaint filed Jan. 22.

Controls is a “direct competitor,” Pine said, an assertion denied by Baker.

Baker was hired by Pine in 1999 and worked as a sales and customer service representative.

According to Controls, Baker contacted Controls’ parent company, Controls S.r.l., of Italy, in August 2012 to ask about a job. Baker and a representative of Controls had met at a North Carolina trade show, and later in Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

Controls offered Baker a position with its American startup on Oct. 23, with the work to begin in January.

Baker said he was not obligated to notify Pine if he wanted to interview with another company or accept another position, and understood that Pine had a policy that its confidential, secret and proprietary information was to be used “solely in the interest of Pine.”

During the fall of 2013, Baker said, his workload was “extremely heavy and demanding,” and included website development and tasks related to pricing. He said he worked on the projects at home on evenings and weekends.

Because he did not have access to Pine’s e-mail system from home, Baker would send information to his personal e-mail account so he could access it from home, he said.

“Baker obtained confidential information for most, if not all, of Pine’s customers and vendors and, as a result, can use such information to Pine’s detriment,” Pine said.

Baker acknowledged he informed Pine on Dec. 20 that he was leaving, nearly two months after he accepted the job, but said he continued “to perform all of my job duties for Pine to the best of my ability, in a professional manner and for its sole benefit.”

Baker said Pine officials never asked him about any confidential, secret or proprietary information he possessed.

“The first time I learned that Pine had any concerns whatsoever was when I was served with this lawsuit,” Baker said.

Controls never asked him to use Pine “inside information” on behalf of Controls, Baker said, and he never provided any Pine information to Controls or anyone else.

“Controls USA never received any of Pine’s information from Mr. Baker and, until this lawsuit, was unaware of any allegations that he had downloaded any information from his prior employer,” Controls said.

Controls has asked the judge to dismiss the suit on the basis that U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh has no jurisdiction over Controls, a company with no contacts, business, property or suppliers in Pennsylvania. The company said it has asked Baker to remain in Pennsylvania – he has planned to move to Georgia – until “further notice.”

In its nine-count complaint alleging violations of state and federal law, Pine asks for, among other things, the return of all Pine information held by Baker, a prohibition against Baker working for or having an interest in a competitor of Pine for two years, and damages three times the loss suffered by Pine.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Doss: Public has right to know

    A major part of Farrell council’s work session Monday was spent deciding whether or not to inform the audience about an unofficial police proposal from the City of Sharon.

    July 30, 2014

  • Budget falling short despite tax hike

    Farrell residents may have seen an income tax increase this year, but the city isn’t seeing the extra dollars City Manager Michael Ceci budgeted for.

    July 30, 2014

  • oakwood graves 1 Resting together

    Visitors to Oakwood Cemetery would see many  familiar local names if they looked down the hillside to the left just inside the gate on Sharon’s North Oakland Avenue.

    July 30, 2014 3 Photos

  • Police: Kids in car were OK

    The mother of two young children was drunk and passed out when police found them all in a car parked along a city street, Sharon police said.

    July 29, 2014

  • To talk – or not – about police

    The mysterious agenda item, “No. 10,” at Farrell’s council meeting Monday became the center of a heated workshop and business session.

    July 29, 2014

  • Community thanks its first-responders

    Sharpsville honored its emergency responders Sunday at an event that included Mertz Towers residents as special guests.

    July 28, 2014

  • Drilling boom challenges state inspectors

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the last century.

    July 28, 2014

  • Kidds Mill Covered Bridge A span of time

    Four generations of the Cadman family have enjoyed the Kidds Mill Covered Bridge, which is in Pymatuning Township near where the family’s ancestral farm is located.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • Intruder hurts woman, takes $5

    A home invasion in Hermitage Friday night sent an elderly woman to the hospital and netted the robber $5.

    July 27, 2014

  • national night out March against crime set for Aug. 5

    At the last Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Commission meeting, Chief Riley Smoot Jr. presented the number of incidents for each of the four communities in May.

    Farrell topped out at 819.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • high street trail Peaceful pathways

    History buffs and picnickers in the Shenango Valley won’t have to drive to Sharpsville to hang out at the old Erie Canal extension lock. They’ll soon have the option to walk or roll in on bicycles and even powered chairs to visit Canal Park near the outflow of Shenango Dam.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • balloonquest1 Balloon Quest celebrates 25 years

    Today is the final day of the 25th annual Western Pennsylvania Balloon Quest at Scotland Meadows Park.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • News briefs from July 26, 2014

    Man faces bomb threat charges

    June building tops $4 million in Hermitage

    July 26, 2014

  • Elderly man survives plane crash

    An elderly man survived wrecking his plane into a bank, then landing into a wetland, about 200 feet south of Runway 28 at Grove City Regional Airport in Springfield Township on Friday.

    July 26, 2014

  • Dontae Rashad Pinkins Man arrested for April gunfight

    Federal marshals and local police arrested Dontae Rashad Pinkins Thursday on a warrant accusing him of involvement in an April gunfight with another man in a Sharon alley.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo