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Atrient, Inc. v. Perez

United States District Court, D. Nevada

January 18, 2018

ATRIENT, INC., Plaintiff(s),
WENDY PEREZ, Defendant(s).


         Presently before the court is plaintiff Atrient, Inc.'s (“Atrient”) motion for preliminary injunction. (ECF No. 9).[1] Defendant Wendy Perez (“Perez”) filed a response (ECF No. 14), to which Atrient replied (ECF No. 15).

         I. Facts

         Atrient is a gaming information technology company. (ECF No. 9). Atrient provides custom developed software solutions for gaming operators and holds millions of dollars in business contracts. (Id.). Atrient has a duty to protect gaming, client, and patron information in accordance with regulatory requirements as well as client contracts. (Id.).

         On or about October 20, 2016, Atrient hired Perez as a Senior Account Executive. (Id.). Atrient alleges that pursuant to Perez's offer letter, and as a condition of her employment, she was to sign a separate at-will employment, non-competition, confidential information and invention assignment agreement (“NDA”) that required non-disclosure of propriety information. (Id.). While Perez began working at Atrient, she never executed the separate NDA. (Id.).

         After a few months of employment, Atrient alleges Perez's work performance began to decline. (Id.). In May 2017, Atrient informed Perez of her performance issues and designed a performance improvement plan (“PIP”). (Id.). Atrient alleges Perez refused to sign the PIP and thereafter accused Atrient of harassment. (Id.). Perez then filed a formal harassment complaint with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission. (Id.). Perez contends the PIP was presented to her as retaliation, only after Atrient learned of her internal harassment complaints against her supervisor. (ECF No. 14). Further, Perez contends she refused to sign the PIP because she was performing her job as expected. (Id.).

         Despite several efforts by Atrient, Perez continued to refuse to sign the NDA. (ECF No. 9). On or about November 10, 2017, each employee of Atrient with access to confidential and proprietary information was required to sign a new NDA. (Id.). At this time, Atrient alleges Perez was again presented with the NDA, but refused to sign it. (Id.). Perez contends Atrient's inability to provide an executed NDA from when she was initially hired is Atrient's fault. (ECF No. 14). Perez claims she subsequently refused to sign an NDA because she felt Atrient was pressuring her to do so in anticipation of her termination. (Id.).

         On or about November 13, 2017, Perez searched for the Atrient Internet Protocol address (“IP address”) while at work, using a work computer. (ECF No. 9). Atrient alleges that Perez conspired with unknown defendants who helped her access the IP address. (Id.). Further, Atrient claims Perez then provided the IP address and computer count on the Atrient network to these unknown defendants. (Id.). Atrient terminated Perez soon after learning she had accessed the company's IP address. (Id.).

         An IP address is assigned to a network or a computer and provides a unique identification of each user of the internet. (Id.). An IP address allows for access out to the internet as well as access back to the computer or network. (Id.). Atrient contends that Perez's search for the IP address had no business purpose. (Id.). Atrient further contends that it is well known that when a party intends to do harm to the network of a business, the way to access the network is through the business's IP address. (Id.). Atrient thus concludes that “Perez's conduct of searching for Atrient's IP address and likely relating to John Doe is for nothing other than an unlawful purpose.” (Id.).

         Perez admits to searching for the IP address, but contends it was because she “was concerned that her privacy was being invaded by her harasser who was seemingly monitoring her movements, outside of the office environment, with some sort of tracking device on her work phone because [her harasser] would contact her and cryptically suggest knowing where she was.” (ECF No. 14). She claims she googled “what is my IP address” so as to compare what came up in her search with the supposed suspicious activity on her phone and computer. (Id.). Perez claims she “was unaware of what the [IP address] was and how it could be used.” (Id.). She further denies she conducted the search in furtherance of causing harm to Atrient or conspired with anyone to do so. (Id.).

         Perez alleges that Atrient could easily prevent any potential harm by having its IT department change the IP address. (Id.). Accordingly, a preliminary injunction is not necessary. (Id.).

         In the instant motion, Atrient requests that the court grant a preliminary injunction because “Perez is in possession of confidential and sensitive Atrient information . . . .” and “should immediately be restrained from conduct that not only threatens Atrient, but Atrient's duties and obligations to its clients.” (ECF No. 9). Perez alleges that Atrient has failed to satisfy the irreparable harm and success on the merits elements required in order to issue a preliminary injunction. (ECF No. 14).

         II. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65 provides that the court may issue a preliminary injunction on notice to the adverse party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(a)(1). A preliminary injunction seeks to preserve the status quo and prevent irreparable harm from occurring before a judgment is issued. Textile Unlimited Inc. v. BMH & Co., 240 F.3d 781, 786 (9th Cir. 2001).

         The Supreme Court has stated that courts must consider the following elements in determining whether to issue a preliminary injunction: (1) likelihood of success on the merits; (2) likelihood of irreparable injury if preliminary relief is not granted; (3) balance of hardships; and (4) advancement of the public interest. Winter v. N.R.D.C., 555 U.S. 7, 20 ...

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