TechAmerica adds more specifics to allegations against former officials, ITI

Monday - 12/16/2013, 2:55pm EST

TechAmerica put a finer point on its allegations against three former employees and the rival trade association they went to, the IT Industry Council, of stealing proprietary information.

TechAmerica submitted an amended complaint to the Superior Court of Washington, D.C., Dec. 9, offering more specific details of alleged wrongdoings by Trey Hodgkins, Pam Walker and Carol Henton. TechAmerica is seeking at least $5 million in damages and an injunction against the three and ITI from using any proprietary information the three former employees allegedly took with them to the new organization.

"Mr. Hodgkins indicated that he would have a 'truckload' of materials that he would be removing from TechAmerica. Ms. Henton retained, among other documents, handwritten notes taken during retention or prospecting conference calls and meetings with members and prospective members," court documents stated. "Ms. Walker retained, among other things, numerous documents relating to her work for various committees and various materials related to proposed legislation and regulations. By retaining hard-copy documents owned by TechAmerica, the individual defendants have deprived TechAmerica of access to and use of these documents."

Hodgkins, Walker, Henton and Erica McCann left TechAmerica in November to start a rival organization with ITI, called the IT Alliance for Public Sector.

TechAmerica claims in court documents that Hodgkins and Henton took proprietary documents from TechAmerica, including details of the upcoming Federal CIO Survey, an internal document, the Public Sector Board Principles of Operations, and position description documents.

"The complaint now includes additional details uncovered during our ongoing investigation. What we are finding continues to surprise us in the egregious, unethical and illegal actions of these ITI employees," said Shawn Osborne, TechAmerica president, in an email statement. "Because we believe that sunshine is the best disinfectant, we are being extraordinarily transparent with ITI's management and board as well as the community at large, which is extremely unusual in this situation. We remain hopeful that ITI will demonstrate a commitment to legal and ethical business practices for the good of the industry."

TechAmerica also alleges Hodgkins and Henton downloaded membership information, including dues paid, date by which the company must renew by and duration of membership, from its Salesforce cloud-based database. TechAmerica also believes Hodgkins changed the email address to its Dropbox account where the association stored confidential and proprietary documents.

"On Nov. 4, 2013, the same day that the individual defendants resigned, Mr. Hodgkins deleted over three gigabytes of data from the TechAmerica virtual drive. The data that Mr. Hodgkins deleted contained confidential and proprietary information and trade secrets owned by TechAmerica, including but not limited to information about TechAmerica members and information about TechAmerica's business strategies," the court documents attest. "TechAmerica was able to recover earlier versions of many of the documents deleted by Mr. Hodgkins from previous backup tapes, but TechAmerica was unable to recover the most recent versions of the documents that Mr. Hodgkins copied to his personal computer and then deleted. Additionally, TechAmerica has been unable to confirm that it has been able to recover even earlier versions of all of the documents deleted by Mr. Hodgkins."

Additionally, TechAmerica alleges Hodgkins removed all data from his company provided iPhone and iPad before returning. TechAmerica says it can't access any documents or information on the devices.

In court documents, TechAmerica alleges it has suffered and will continue to suffer "irreparable injury" by Hodgkins, Henton and Walker's actions to include, but not be limited to, a decline in revenue from membership dues, reputation and increased expenses getting members to renew.

TechAmerica also requested a jury trial.

An initial conference with the judge is scheduled for Feb. 7.

"We at ITI are confident that we will be successful in court, while at the same continuing to advance our industry's job-creating policy agenda," said Robert Hoffman, ITI's vice president of government affairs.

ITI in early December filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit by TechAmerica.

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