The Last Detective - Nardizzi Inc.

Bimbo Bakeries crumbles opposition in trade secret case

A recent PA case, Bimbo Bakeries v. Botticella, the Third Circuit held that if the facts show a “substantial threat” of misappropriation, an employer may be able to obstruct mobility of former employees -- even in the absence of a non-compete agreement.

Botticella was a senior executive at Bimbo Bakeries, the maker of Thomas’, Entenmann’s, and Boboli brands. He was se to move to a competitor, Hostess. While he had signed an agreement to never disclose Bimbo’s proprietary information, he had not signed a non-compete. Nonetheless, despite the public interest in employees' freedom to work where they please, the court held that Bimbo could stop Botticella from working in light of evidence that he was copying files from his laptop to external devices prior to leaving Bimbo (he claimed he did so only to practice his computer skills; the court squashed this cupcake argument).

Thus if a solid forensic and background investigation shows a “substantial threat” of misappropriation, the employee is left with crumbs.

SJC melts old snow/ice accumulation standard

The SJC in Papadopoulos v. Target Corp abandoned the bizarre Mass. distinction between "natural and unnatural accumulations of snow and ice" which had constituted an exception to the general rule of premises liability that a property owner owes a duty to all lawful visitors to use reasonable care.

The new standard: "We now will apply to hazards arising from snow and ice the same obligation that a property owner owes to lawful visitors as to all other hazards: a duty to act as a reasonable person under all of the circumstances including the likelihood of injury to others, the probable seriousness of such injuries, and the burden of reducing or avoiding the risk. … If a property owner knows or reasonably should know of a dangerous condition on its property, whether arising from an accumulation of snow or ice, or rust on a railing, or a discarded banana peel, the property owner owes a duty to lawful visitors to make reasonable efforts to protect lawful visitors against the danger.

Bottom line: start shoveling.

Governor Patrick signs CORI Reform

The new Criminal Offender Record Information law (CORI) prohibits employers from asking on an “initial written application form” about an applicant’s “criminal offender record information,” which includes information about criminal charges, arrests, and incarcerations. The term “initial written application" in the new text may allow employers to continue to question applicants about felony and certain misdemeanor convictions later in the process. Moreover, the law does not address classic court docket research conducted by investigators.

1982 Lowell arson conviction may be reconsidered

The Boston Globe did a piece on flaws in an arson investigation that led to the conviction of N&A INC client Victor Rosario. An appeal is being filed.

Real CORI reform

The movement to "reform" CORI by making record sealing easier and restricting public access sounds wonderful. But it ignores the fundamental problem with the database. Those who know public records in Massachusetts understand that CORI--which has never been accessible in full by the public except to those who order their own report--has always been a misleading source of criminal record data. CORI can be difficult to understand and does not contain any case background information. Moreover, it is based on records that have been considered public for decades. A federal judge came close in one case to overturning the CORI law by deeming the information to be essentially computerized records of court dockets, which have traditionally been open public records.

Instead of telling businesses how to hire, we should allow businesses to gather as much information as they deem necessary--many of them routinely make better judgments than elected officials. More to the point: businesses will continue to hire investigators to check public court documents to gather the information they need to run their businesses.