Brattleboro's G.S. Precision sues former employee for stealing secrets, employees

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BRATTLEBORO >> G.S. Precision has filed a complaint against a former employee it alleges is sharing proprietary information with his new employer.

In addition, according to documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont, G.S. Precision is accusing Edward Hewey, of Spofford, N.H., of recruiting active employees to work for his new employer, Sisson Engineering, in Northfield, Mass.

Hewey, a sales engineering manager at G.S. Precision, came to work for the company after G.S. Precision acquired Knapp & Koester, in Keene, N.H.

"During his employment for G.S. Precision, Defendant Hewey was responsible for — among other things, understanding the requirements of G.S. Precision's customers and G.S. Precision's capabilities to meet those needs, as well as understanding the supply chain and the special processing of components," states the complaint.

Because of his position at the company, Hewey had access to "confidential, proprietary and GSP Trade Secret information," most specifically information for a component for an aerospace company identified as "Company A."

According to the court document, "G.S. Precision has spent significant resources to develop the methods to fabricate the part-specific products that Customer A requires."

Hewey also had access to engineering information, customer lists, customers' part drawings, cost information, information about quotation and pricing strategies, marketing plans and methods of operation. Hewey's job entailed developing professional relationships with Customer A and other G.S. Precision customers and potential customers, key suppliers, subcontractors and distributors.

Hewey signed a non-disclosure agreement with G.S. Precision, but in February 2015 he left the company to become Sisson's general manager.

By September, states the complaint, G.S. Precision became concerned that Hewey was recruiting its employees to come work for Sisson, "possibly for the purpose of improperly obtaining confidential, propriety or GSP Trade Secret information."

According to the complaint, Hewey convinced three employees, all former Knappe & Koester employees, to quit and come to work for him at Sisson, "several of whom had direct knowledge and involvement in the manufacturing processes and other confidential, proprietary and GSP Trade Secret information related to Customer A ..."

Hewey also solicited a fourth employee to come to work for him, but that employee turned down the offer, states the complaint.

Before one of the employees came to work for him at Sisson, states the complaint, that employee supplied Hewey with "highly guarded technical documents" in an effort "to unlawfully acquire an unfair commercial advantage for Sisson (and generate new business from Customer A using this improperly acquired information)."

This employee did not initially accept Hewey's offer of employment, but she did agree to and did perform consulting services for Sisson without notifying G.S. Precision, states the complaint. In October, the employee was again offered another job at Sisson, at which time Hewey allegedly said the employee should "grab the tooling sheets for (the component)." The employee left G.S. Precision shortly thereafter and took a job with Sisson.

"G.S. Precision learned that (the employee) had, on or about October 21, 2015 (the day before her abrupt resignation) sent numerous e-mails containing proprietary, confidential and GSP Trade Secret information ... to another non-G.S. Precision e-mail account ... Upon investigation, G.S. Precision learned that (the employee) convinced a co-worker to provide her with access to other documents and files that she did not have permission to access."

G.S. Precision also learned that the employee attempted to e-mail information directly to Hewey's account at Sisson, stating "Hang on to these for me until I get there. Thanks." This employee also attempted unsuccessfully, multiple times, to download information, including details of Customer A's component to a USB device, notes the complaint.

When confronted about the activity, the employee said it had been done "in poor judgment" and "for sentimental reasons."

G.S. Precision is asking the federal court to prevent Hewey and Sisson from using the allegedly purloined information for a competitive advantage. It is also asking the court to award "all damages incurred as a result of Defendant Hewey's unlawful conduct," as well as attorney's fees, and court costs. G.S. Precision also asked the court for punitive damages in accordance with Vermont's Trade Secrets Act.

"As a result of Defendant Hewey's misappropriation and threatened misappropriation of G.S. Precision's Trade Secrets, G.S. Precision has incurred irreparable harm and may incur further irreparable harm," states the document.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 160


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