Medidata brought suit against its competitor, Veeva, alleging that Medidata's former employees, who eventually left the company to work for Veeva, violated their employment agreements which required them to protect Medidata's confidential information and to refrain from competing with Medidata during their employment there and for up to one year thereafter. Specifically, Medidata alleged that the former employees misappropriated Medidata's trade secrets and other confidential information. Three of the five former employees' agreements included an arbitration clause that mandated arbitration of "any dispute or controversy arising out of or relating to" their agreements. Veeva urged the court to compel arbitration based on the former employees' arbitration agreements under a theory of equitable estoppel.
The district court denied the motion, and on appeal, the issue was whether Veeva demonstrated the requisite "relationship among the parties" that would make it unfair to decline to require arbitration of this dispute. The Second Circuit, in a summary order, affirmed, reasoning that no such relationship existed: "Veeva was not involved at all in those relationships until it intruded by allegedly poaching Medidata employees and inducing them to divulge Medidata's secrets; in other words, by 'wrongfully inducing' the former employees to breach their contract with Medidata." As such, because Veeva was in no such relationship at the time the arbitration agreements were signed, no equitable estoppel justification existed to compel arbitration. , Case Nos. 17-2694(L) & 18-681(CON) (2d Cir. Sept. 6, 2018).
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