After a two-week jury trial Deceuninck North America (DNA) reports that it won a $1.158 million verdict, plus attorneys’ fees, in a trade secrets case against a former employee and the company he went to work for, Sensibuilt Building Solutions.

DNA sued the former vice president of its decking business and the deck manufacturing company he went to work for, Sensibuilt Building Solutions, for numerous claims including the misappropriation of trade secrets. When DNA first learned that the former employee had gone to Sensibuilt, a forensics review of his work computer ultimately led to the discovery that he had downloaded more than 2,000 of DNA’s most confidential documents onto a flash drive in the weeks just prior to departing the company. During this process the employee also stripped many of those documents of data that would track their use and subsequently “wiped” clean his home computer’s memory, further impairing discovery, according to DNA.

Through computer forensics, DNA identified the employee’s use of key documents pertaining to its deck trim product which occurred at the same time the employee was developing a similar deck trim product for its competitor, Sensibuilt. Additionally, DNA’s attorney, Thompson-Hine of Cincinnati, obtained an adverse inference instruction regarding spoliation of evidence which allowed the jury to assume that the employee took the steps he did to conceal evidence. Relying primarily on an unjust enrichment theory, DNA prevailed on its misappropriation claims against both the employee and Sensibuilt, as well as its fiduciary duty and spoliation claims against the employee himself. DNA was awarded $783,000 in compensatory damages and $375,000 in punitive damages, plus attorneys’ fees.

“While I greatly appreciate the jury’s verdict, the fact remains that we will never really know what damage was done to our company,” said Mark Parrish, president and chief executive officer of DNA.


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