United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING
DERRICK K. WATSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
September 17, 2018, Plaintiff DLMC, Inc., dba Kama'aina
Health Care Services (DLMC), initiated this action against
Benedicta Flores and Loving Care Health Provider, Inc.
(LCHP), alleging claims for violation of the Defend Trade
Secrets Act (DTSA), 18 U.S.C. §1836(b)(3), and the
Hawai‘i Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Complaint, Dkt No. 1
(Compl.). DLMC also filed a Motion for Temporary Restraining
Order, seeking to enjoin Flores and LCHP from appropriating
DLMC's trade secrets and confidential information, as
well as from interfering with DLMC's existing and
prospective customer relations. Motion for TRO (Motion), Dkt
No. 3. Because DLMC may not rely on pleadings and conclusions
to establish the likelihood of success on the merits,
the Motion for TRO is DENIED.
a Hawai‘i-based corporation with approximately 300
employees, providing healthcare services to elderly and
infirm residents of Hawai‘i. Compl. ¶8. Beginning
in August 2013, Flores was an office manager for DLMC,
working closely with direct-care providers who were also
employed by DLMC. Compl. ¶12. She also did some
direct-service work with DLMC clients. Id. As a
condition of her employment, Flores signed HIPAA
confidentiality agreements regarding patient information as
well as an employee non-disclosure agreement. Compl.
terminated Flores' employment on June 30, 2017, for
“misappropriat[ing] confidential, proprietary
information…” Compl. ¶18. Flores is now
employed by LCHP. Motion at 5. LCHP was started by a former
DLMC employee in 2016 and provides healthcare services
similar to DLMC. Id.
September 17, 2018, DLMC filed a Complaint and Motion for
TRO, asking this Court to enjoin Flores' and LCHP's
alleged tortious interference with DLMC's existing and
prospective clients. Dkt Nos. 1, 3. On November 9, 2018,
Flores filed an Opposition to the TRO and a Motion to
Dismiss, challenging this Court's subject-matter
jurisdiction and arguing that DLMC had failed to provide
sufficient evidence of a likelihood of success on the merits
or of irreparable harm in the absence of injunctive relief.
Dkt Nos. 18, 19. On the same day, LCHP joined in Flores'
Motion to Dismiss. Dkt No. 20. DLMC timely replied in support
of its TRO motion on November 19, 2018. Dkt No. 22.
standards for issuing a temporary restraining order and a
preliminary injunction are identical. See, e.g., Hawaii
v. Gannett Pac. Corp., 99 F.Supp.2d 1241, 1247 (D. Haw.
1999). A “plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction
must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits,
that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence
of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in
his favor, and that an injunction is in the public
interest.” Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council,
Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008) (citation omitted).
“That is, ‘serious questions going to the
merits' and a balance of hardships that tips sharply
towards the plaintiff can support issuance of a preliminary
injunction, so long as the plaintiff also shows that there is
a likelihood of irreparable injury and that the injunction is
in the public interest.” Alliance for the Wild
Rockies v. Cottrell, 632 F.3d 1127, 1135 (9th Cir.
claims that Flores has been using trade secrets, in the form
of DLMC's customer lists, to lure away customers, to
dissuade potential customers from hiring DLMC, and to
encourage employees to leave DLMC and join LCHP. Motion at 1.
Accordingly, DLMC seeks -
a temporary restraining order enjoining Defendants [Flores
and LCHP], and any other person or entity acting on behalf of
them both… to stop further violations and to recover
Plaintiff's misappropriated confidential information from
for TRO at 3.
is an extraordinary measure, requiring the movant to carry a
heavy burden in order to obtain such relief. See, e.g.,
Winter, 555 U.S. at 22. DLMC has not only failed to
carry this burden but does not come close. By not presenting
sufficient evidence in support of the misappropriation of
trade secrets by anyone, much less by Defendants, DLMC has
failed to show that it is likely to succeed on the merits.
Similarly, DLMC has ...