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Boehm v. Black Diamond Casino Events, LLC

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton

June 20, 2018

ROGER BOEHM, JR., Plaintiff/Third-Party Defendant-Appellee,
v.
BLACK DIAMOND CASINO EVENTS, LLC, Intervenor/Third-Party Plaintiff-Appellant.

          Civil Appeal From: Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Trial No. A-1406309

          Eugene R. Butler, for Plaintiff/Third-Party Defendant-Appellee,

          Edward J. Collins and Zachary D. Bahorik, for Intervenor/Third-Party Plaintiff-Appellant.

          OPINION

          MILLER, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Intervenor/third-party plaintiff-appellant Black Diamond Casino Events, LLC ("Black Diamond") appeals the decision of the trial court to grant plaintiff/third-party defendant-appellee Roger Boehm, Jr.'s ("Boehm") motion for involuntary dismissal under Civ.R. 41(B)(2). For the following reasons, we affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         {¶2} Black Diamond operates a casino-games-themed events business for corporate and private parties. Roger Boehm, Jr., a former employee of Black Diamond, approached the owners about buying two of the four members' interests in Black Diamond. In connection with his due diligence, Boehm signed a nondisclosure agreement to review Black Diamond's business records. Boehm obtained Black Diamond customer information, tax returns, financial statements, and vendor information. Boehm elected to move forward on the purchase of the two members' interests, but the members refused to sell. Boehm commenced this action, alleging that the members breached an oral agreement to sell him their membership interests. Black Diamond intervened, asserting counterclaims for breach of contract and violations of the Ohio Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Boehm ultimately dismissed his complaint. Black Diamond moved for partial summary judgment on its breach-of-contract claim, which was granted. The trial court held a bench trial on the trade-secrets claim and rendered an oral judgment of dismissal under Civ.R. 41(B)(2) finding in favor of Boehm at the conclusion of Black Diamond's case.

         Analysis

         {¶3} The dismissal of a plaintiffs case under Civ.R. 41(B)(2) during a bench trial allows the trial court to weigh the evidence, resolve any conflicts therein, and render judgment for the defendant at the close of the plaintiffs case if the plaintiff has shown no right to relief. Bank One, Dayton, NA. v. Doughman, 59 Ohio App.3d 60, 63, 571 N.E.2d 442 (1st Dist.1988). On appeal, the dismissal will be set aside only if erroneous as a matter of law or against the manifest weight of the evidence. Id.

         Black Diamond's Client List and Financial Data are Trade Secrets

         {¶4} Black Diamond presents three assignments of error for review. In its first assignment of error, Black Diamond contends that the trial court erred as a matter of law in finding that no trade secrets existed. A trade secret is defined as information, including the whole or any portion or phase of any scientific or technical information, design, process, procedure, formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or improvement, or any business information or plans, financial information, or listing of names, addresses, or telephone numbers, that satisfies both of the following:

(1) It derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use.
(2) It is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to ...

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