HARRISBURG – The state Superior Court has overturned a preliminary injunction granted in 2016 that prohibited P. Joseph Lehman Inc. employee Steven J. Treschow from sharing confidential information related to the clients of former employer Letterle & Associates Inc., according to a July 6 ruling.
The Superior Court ruling said Treschow was bound by the terms of a confidentiality, non-solicitation and intellectual property agreement when he quit his job with environmental consulting company Letterle on Nov. 13, 2014, to work for Lehman.
“The Letterle agreement provided that Mr. Treschow, while employed by the company and for a period of two years after termination of his employment, would not ‘[s]olicit or induce, or attempt to solicit or induce, any customer or prospective customer of the company with which [Mr. Treschow] communicated with while employed by the company,’” the Superior Court order said.
However, Letterle argued that some of its clients decided to take their business to Lehman after Treschow began working for the latter company.
In response to a cease-and-desist letter sent by Letterle, the Superior Court said “Mr. Treschow denied breaching the Letterle agreement, disclosing any of Letterle’s confidential information or soliciting any of Letterle’s customers or employees.”
Treschow said any communication he did have with Letterle clients after he left the company was initiated by the clients themselves or was part of personal correspondence between Treschow and the clients. Treschow also denied disclosing anything other than information that “is generally known and/or is otherwise not protect[ed] under Pennsylvania law,” according to the ruling.
The Centre County Common Pleas court granted a preliminary injunction against Treschow’s use or disclosure of “Letterle’s confidential, proprietary or trade secret information,” the Superior Court order said.
Specifically, the lower court’s injunction covered Letterle customer information, “as such constituted information not generally known to the public or within the industry.” As a result, the Common Pleas court said the client information qualified as a trade secret to be protected under the confidentiality agreement.
The Superior Court disagreed, finding that there are no “apparently legal grounds” for the injunction.