United States District Court, D. Nevada
Arlien Casillas (“Ms. Casillas”) moves to
disqualify attorney Robert W. Tormohlen (“Mr.
Tormohlen”), his law firm, Lewis Rice, LLC
(“Lewis Rice”) and local counsel. Holley Driggs,
Walsh, Puzey & Thompson (“Holley Driggs”)
from representing plaintiff FLS Transportation Services (USA)
Inc. (“FLS”) in this action (ECF No. 60/61). FLS
responded (ECF No. 69/70) and Ms. Casillas replied (ECF No.
77/78). The basis for the motion is that Mr. Tormohlen and
Lewis Rice represented Ms. Casillas in prior lawsuit. This
case is about the logistics business. FLS and OpenRoad are
competitors, but this case also concerns another of their
competitors, C.H. Robinson Worldwide (“CHR”),
since a prior lawsuit between FLS and CHR is the basis of
this motion. Logistics companies connect customers (retailers
and manufacturers who need to ship things) with carriers
(trucking companies and rail companies that can ship them
(ECF No. 1).
These companies connect customers and carriers through their
employees, called brokers, who determine customer needs and
find carriers who can meet those needs. Brokers solicit
customers through the use of proprietary information, such as
carriers' specific routes, specific equipment, or price
structures. The brokers execute the contract with customers.
Brokers also execute contracts with carriers (“carrier
contracts”) on behalf of their employers. The carrier
contracts prohibit carriers from cutting out the middleperson
During the term of this Contract and for a period of one (1)
year following its termination, Carrier shall not provide
transportation services or related services to any of
[FLS's] customers for which Carrier has provided services
under this Contract, unless the shipments are tendered by
[FLS]; provided, however, this provision shall not apply if
Carrier has conducted business with such customer during the
two years before [FLS] first tendered shipments to Carrier
for such customer.
(ECF No. 1 at ¶ 58).
court also surmises that it is common for logistics
businesses to require their employees to sign an employment
agreement, which includes a confidentiality and
non-solicitation provision similar to the one FLS and Ms.
Casillas signed in this case. The “confidentiality
provision” of that agreement prohibits Ms. Casillas
from disclosing certain information deemed confidential:
Any information relating to our policies, processes,
structures, operations, customers, or other employees
acquired by you in the course of, or as a result of, your
employment with [FLS] is considered confidential. Such
information shall be treated as confidential, and may not be
disclosed by you to any other person, firm or company during
your employment or after without prior written authorization.
Confidential information or other material includes but is
not limited to financial information, plans, strategies,
corporate information and any other information deemed
“confidential, ” unless information is available
to the general public or in the public domain.
(Id. at ¶ 23.)
non-solicitation provision of that same agreement provides as
It is a term of this offer that you agree that during your
employment, and for a period of 6 months following the
termination of such employment for any reason whatsoever, you
shall not either individually or in partnership or
conjunction with any person or persons, firms, association,
syndicate, company or corporation as principal, employee,
contractor, shareholder or agent, directly or indirectly
encourage any [FLS] employee to leave employment with [FLS].
(Id. at ¶ 24).
court now turns to the prior lawsuit in which Ms. Casillas
was employed by CHR.
Ms. Casillas's Prior Employment with C.H. Robinson
Worldwide, Inc. and the 2008 Lawsuit
not Ms. Casillas's first employer in the transportation
logistics industry. As earlier noted, CHR is a competitor of
FLS, and Ms. Casillas was hired to head CHR's new Reno
office in November 2001 until May 2006 when she voluntarily
resigned. (ECF No. 60, Ex. 5) CHR, like FLS, required Ms.
Casillas to sign an employment agreement with covenants
restricting the solicitation of employees and customers as
well as the disclosure of confidential or proprietary
information. See Id. FLS knew Ms. Casillas and other
CHR employees were subject to restrictive covenants. See
Id. at 11. Nevertheless, FLS recruited Ms. Casillas and
other CHR employees and assured them it intended to challenge
the enforceability of their obligations to CHR. See
Id. at 10-11. FLS enticed CHR employees to join FLS with
promises of lucrative commissions and bonuses, and it used
CHR's former employees as part of its strategic expansion
plan. See Id.
2008, CHR sued FLS, its executives, and various former CHR
employees, including Ms. Casillas, in Minnesota state court
(ECF No. 60, Ex. 5) (C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. v. FLS
Transportation, Inc., , ” State of Minnesota
District Court, County of Hennepin, Fourth Judicial District,
Court File No. 27-CV-08-4789) (“CHR v.
FLS”). FLS initially retained a Minnesota firm to
jointly represent all defendants, including Ms. Casillas.
(ECF No. 60 at 4). However, FLS later retained Mr. Tormohlen
and Lewis Rice to represent all of the FLS defendants, and
the case settled in February 2011 (ECF No. 69 at 23).
Ms. Casillas's Employment with FLS from September 2006
through September 2016
employed defendant Ms. Casillas as the branch director of its
Reno office beginning in September 2006. Ms. Casillas
coordinated and managed the services that FLS provided
through that office. She also managed and supervised other
employees in the office including Berenisa Orozco and Cindy
Dillard. Ms. Casillas and her colleagues in the Reno branch
office were the primary or exclusive ...