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Business Law

Concannon & Charles routinely handles a variety of business and commercial law matters, including advising companies and individuals on contracts, the law of corporations and other for-profit and non-profit business organizations, intellectual property (copyright, trademarks, trade secrets, and rights of publicity), antitrust, contracts, employment law and litigation.

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Our services range from the formation of a new company, acting as “Outside General Counsel” to assist with daily management decisions, to winding up and selling a company’s operations.  When advising and representing individuals, we ensure that all of the client’s needs are considered and addressed.  On the litigation front, we routinely handle everything from simple contract disputes to “bet-the company” litigation involving millions of dollars.  We provide the same high level of commitment to meeting our clients’ needs as the clients expect from themselves and their employees.

 

Our advice on business issues is informed by our litigation experience.  David Concannon has achieved tens of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts on behalf of the firm’s business clients, and he has defended more than $250 million in claims asserted against the firm’s clients in state and federal courts nationwide.  Concannon & Charles was recently recognized for achieving one of the "Top 10 Defense Verdicts of 2016" for its successful defense of Skiles v. Lamartek, a $25 million products liability and wrongful death case in Florida.  Mr. Concannon previously achieved one of the top 50 jury verdicts in the United States in 2005, in a case that also achieved the second highest jury verdict in Pennsylvania and one of the highest jury verdicts ever recorded in a tortious interference case in the United States.  Mr. Concannon has been recognized as a “Super Lawyer” in Business Litigation by Pennsylvania Super Lawyers every year since 2006.  Mr. Concannon has not lost a trial since 1996.

 

REPRESENTATIVE CASES

 

Concannon & Charles handles a variety of commercial litigation and personal injury cases, including cases involving misappropriation of trade secrets, infringement of intellectual property rights, breach of contract, employment disputes, tortious interference, products liability, personal injury and wrongful death.  Here are a few examples of the firm’s cases and successes:

 

Misappropriation of Trade Secrets – Intellectual Property, Manufacturing & Design Knowledge  

Advanced Fluid Systems, Inc. v. Huber, et al. 

 

The firm represents Advanced Fluid Systems, Inc. ("AFS"), an engineering firm that designed, assembled and installed the sophisticated hydraulic and electronic launch system for the Antares commercial rocket at the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority ("VCSFA") on Wallops Island, Virginia.  In December 2013, AFS filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania against its former employees, Kevin Huber and Tom Aufiero; Orbital Sciences Corporation (“Orbital”); engineering firm Livingston & Haven (“L&H”); and an L&H employee alleging that the defendants conspired to, and did, steal plaintiff’s trade secrets and confidential documents, and are using those to divert future work on the Antares rocket launch system to themselves.  AFS brought claims under the Pennsylvania Uniform Trade Secrets Act, the Lanham Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. 

 

Orbital quickly settled, but the remaining defendants are pressing on.  In a lengthy opinion issued in 2014, Advanced Fluid Systems, Inc. v. Huber, 28 F. Supp. 3d 306 (M.D. Pa. 2014), the court found that trade secret protection applies to more than just a company’s intellectual property and it clarified elements of claims for tortious interference with contractual relationships, misappropriation of trade secrets, and violations of the Lanham Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.  The court’s opinion provides a substantive and helpful discussion of Pennsylvania’s trade secret laws, including a finding that trade secret protection applies to more than just a company’s intellectual property.  

 

The case was tried in a non-jury trial in September 2017.  On March 6, 2018, the court issued a 54-page opinion finding in favor of AFS, awarding $2.1 million in compensatory and punitive damages, $1 million in exemplary damages, and attorneys' fees and costs.  

 

Breach of Contract - Class Action

Alfa Auto World v. AAA Mid-Atlantic, Inc.

 

In 2002, AAA Mid-Atlantic, Inc. turned its back on more than 300 loyal providers of emergency roadside service in Pennsylvania, and hundreds of ERS providers in other states, and began assigning service calls to its own fleet of tow trucks and service vehicles.  Unfortunately, AAA had contracts with each of its ERS providers that gave the contractor a specific territory and said that AAA could only assign calls to other contractors as service conditions required, not simply to AAA because AAA wanted to keep revenue from the calls for itself.  

 

When the contracts were entered into, AAA did not have a fleet of service vehicles and contractors were required to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire tow trucks and drivers to service AAA members.  The contractors relied on the volume of service calls they received from AAA to pay for these expenses, and to ensure that motorists received timely service 24 hours a day.  When the calls stopped coming, AAA's contractors started losing millions of dollars and motorists suffered.  AAA never bothered to amend its contracts with the ERS providers, it simply lied about the activities of the AAA fleet.  Then, after one contractor sued for breach of contract and won its lost profits, AAA's house of cards collapsed.  This class action lawsuit followed. 

 

After several years hard fought litigation, including one appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, the Court of Common Pleas for Philadelphia County certified this case as a class action on November 5, 2012.  The case was mediated in 2013-14, and the parties eventually reached a settlement of $1.55 million.  The court granted final approval of the settlement on October 1, 2014.

 

Products Liability – Sports Equipment

Barrett v. Ambient Pressure Diving, Ltd.

 

In a closely watched test case that was discussed on Internet forums around the world, Ambient Pressure Diving, Ltd., the English manufacturer of sophisticated scuba diving equipment known as the Inspiration rebreather, was found not responsible for the death of Robert Barrett – a diver who died while using the equipment in Pennsylvania in August 2002.  David Concannon was lead counsel for Ambient in the four year legal battle and two week trial in Concord, New Hampshire federal court.

 

Wrongful Death – Sports & Recreation

Kusler v. Visibility Unlimited

 

The firm successfully defended a PADI Dive Instructor in a wrongful death action brought against the instructor and a dive shop in

Illinois state court.  The widow of a scuba diver that died while engaged in a PADI Advanced Open Water scuba diving course brought suit, alleging claims for negligence and wrongful death.  The firm initially won a dismissal of the case after the court enforced the PADI

Assumption of Risk and Liability Release Agreement that the diver signed prior to engaging in the certification course. The plaintiff subsequently refiled the lawsuit, alleging a claim for gross negligence.  The plaintiff claimed that the defendants acted with reckless indifference to the rights of the deceased diver because he allegedly drowned in the presence of the instructor. However, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the case after the firm’s medical expert demonstrated that the Coroner incorrectly attributed the cause of death to drowning, when in fact the deceased diver suffered a sudden and fatal heart attack.

 

Commercial Litigation – Breach of Contract

VideoRay, LLC v. Integrated Support Associates, Inc.

 

The firm’s client, VideoRay, LLC, is a manufacturer of micro underwater submersibles known as remotely operated vehicles (“ROVs”). VideoRay’s eight pound ROV is operated from a suitcase-sized control panel and provides crisp video footage to the user, including several United States Government agencies, the Department of Homeland Security, NASA and the United States Navy.

 

In October 2007, VideoRay sold more than $247,929.70 in goods and services to Integrated Support Associates, Inc. (“ISAI”), an Alexandria, Virginia based government and commercial consulting company. ISAI accepted the goods but never paid for them. After VideoRay made repeated unsuccessful attempts to collect its debt from ISAI, the firm filed a breach of contract lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

 

On October 6, 2008, the Court granted VideoRay’s motion for summary judgment, rejecting ISAI’s argument that an invoice stating that 1.5% monthly interest accumulated on unpaid amounts was not a contract.  The Court awarded VideoRay principal in the amount of $247,929.70, and unpaid interest through September 22, 2008 of $37,189.45, for a total of $285,119.16.

 

Misappropriation of Trade Secrets and Patent Infringement - Gardening Devices

Laminations Inc. v. Roma Direct Marketing, LLC

 

Laminations, Inc., the manufacturer of the EarthBox self-watering planter, filed suit against the firm’s clients, Roma Direct Marketing, LLC and its owners, alleging that the defendants’ Garden Patch self-watering planter infringed on the patent for the EarthBox, and the

defendants misappropriated Laminations’ trade secrets when they left Laminations’ employment two years earlier.

 

Judge Thomas Vanaskie of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania denied Laminations’ motion for a preliminary injunction, finding there was no likelihood of success on the plaintiff’s claim for patent infringement and no ascertainable damages.  The case settled and Laminations dismissed its claims with prejudice.

 

Misappropriation of Trade Secrets – Tactical and Military Equipment

MAR-VEL International, Inc. v. Bradford Milnes, et al.

 

The firm’s client, MARVEL International, Inc., held several government contracts to supply military and tactical equipment to the U.S. military and state and local law enforcement.  MAR-VEL filed suit against two of its former employees, the brother of the former employee, and two of their companies, alleging the defendants “hatched a scheme to establish a new company that would directly compete with MAR-VEL” while the employees were still employed by MAR-VEL.  The suit accused the defendants of “stealing and making use of MAR-VEL’s trade secrets and corporate assets, and by soliciting MAR-VEL’s vendors and customers.”  A forensic investigation of the former employees’ computers revealed that they emailed MAR-VEL’s customer lists, pricing information, details about bids and future business opportunities to off-site e-mail accounts and their new company so they could use this information to compete with MAR-VEL.  The case quickly settled, with the defendants stipulating to the entry of injunctive relief.

 

The case also made the news when the defendants’ lead counsel, a Pennsylvania resident who maintained an out-of-state law license in New York but was an inactive member of the Pennsylvania Bar, was denied pro hac vice admission by the U.S. District Court.

 

Misappropriation of Trade Secrets – Sports & Recreation

ITI Holdings, Inc. v. Professional Scuba Association, Inc., et al.

 

ITI Holdings, Inc. ("ITI"), the parent company of three scuba diving training agencies, Scuba Diving International, Technical Diving International and Emergency Response Diving International, filed suit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida against a competing scuba certification agency after four of ITI’s former high level executives defected with customer lists and electronic copies of ITI’s intellectual property, and then used this information to compete with ITI internationally.

 

The lawsuit, which alleged claims for misappropriation of trade secrets, civil conspiracy, copyright infringement, trademark infringement, unfair competition, and tortious interference with actual and prospective contractual relations, settled after evidence produced in the litigation revealed that ITI’s former managers and authors engaged in secret campaign to loot ITI of its corporate assets and instructor base

while they were still affiliated with ITI.