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Bayer Can Advance Suit Accusing Ex-Worker of Stealing Secrets

Aug. 3, 2020, 4:52 PM

Bayer AG‘s U.S. unit can move forward with a lawsuit alleging a former employee stole trade secrets and confidential business information.

Judge Stephen Clark of the Eastern District of Missouri denied ex-worker Hai Zeng’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, saying the company sufficiently alleged the existence of trade secrets, the misuse of them and the resulting damages.

The July 31 ruling shows options companies have when they want to pursue people they believe have misused proprietary data. Bayer accuses Zeng of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 and the Missouri Computer Data Access and Fraud Statute.

Representatives for the pharmaceutical and chemicals conglomerate and Zeng did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Bayer filed its complaint in March after an internal review found Zeng allegedly sent hundreds of company files to his personal email and Dropbox accounts. The materials included optimization models and a customer information database for the company’s Monsanto unit, Bayer alleged.

The company is seeking compensatory and punitive damages and the return or deletion of the allegedly stolen documents.

Clark said that each of Zeng’s arguments as to why to dismiss Bayer’s claim were no more than two sentences and were “undeveloped.”

“The Court will nonetheless consider Zeng’s Motion on the merits but advises his counsel to comply with all controlling authority in his future filings,” Clark wrote.

The judge also said he sees “no reason” to stay the case due to Zeng’s potential pending complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The case is: Bayer U.S., LLC v. Hai Zeng, E.D. Mo., No. 4:20-cv-00431 SRC, opinion filed 7/31/20

To contact the reporter on this story: Jake Holland in Washington at jholland@bloombergindustry.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com; Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com

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