Fraud judgment reversed, trade secret judgment affirmed

Bohnsack v. Varco presented a post-judgment appeal of successful claims for fraud and misappropriation of trade secrets about an oil drilling device called the “Pit Bull.”  No. 10-20741 (Jan. 23, 2012).  The Court ruled: (1) the evidence was sufficient to hold the defendant liable for statements of its outside counsel, to show that those statements were a “material factor” to the plaintiff, and to establish injury from lost profits (op. at 13-16); (2) the fraud damages awarded were benefit-of-the-bargain damages, not compensable under common-law fraud (op. at 16-20 (discussing Haase v. Glazner, 62 S.W.3d 795 (Tex. 2001))); (3) fraudulent inducement failed because the defendant’s statements only induced negotiations, not entry into a contract (op. at 22); and (4) the damages were compensable as misappropriation of a trade secret, under the broad definition of “use” in Texas law, and in light of damages evidence sufficient to show “the value a reasonably prudent investor would pay for the trade secret.”  Op. at 25-26.

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