HOUSTON, August 11, 2023 – The First Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court judgment for Dril-Quip, Inc. and Richard Murphy in a unanimous 60-page published opinion authored by Justice Julie Countiss.
About two years ago, Baker Botts secured a major victory for client Dril-Quip, Inc. in a lawsuit filed by FMC Technologies, Inc. in the 127th District Court of Harris County alleging misappropriation of trade secrets. FMC alleged that its former employee Mr. Murphy communicated FMC trade secrets to Dril-Quip and then used those trade secrets in Dril-Quip’s VXTe subsea tree systems. Evidence at trial clearly showed that Dril-Quip developed its VXTe technology prior to Mr. Murphy joining Dril-Quip.
FMC sought $35 million in actual damages as well as exemplary damages of up to an additional $70 million and injunctive relief. The jury found that the information at issue was not a trade secret and denied any relief to FMC.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the take-nothing judgment for Dril-Quip and Mr. Murphy. The court rejected all of FMC’s challenges to the judgment, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in connection with the jury charge or the admission of expert testimony and that the jury’s failure to find a trade secret was supported by the evidence at trial.
The Baker Botts appellate and trial team representing Dril-Quip included:
Macey Reasoner Stokes (Partner, Houston); Paul Morico (Partner, Houston); Danny David (Partner, Houston); David Wille (Partner, Dallas); Liz Flannery (Partner, Houston); Amy Hefley (Partner, Houston); Susan Kennedy (Partner, Dallas); Thomas Phillips (Partner, Austin); Travis Gray (Associate, Houston); Elisabeth Butler (Associate, Houston); Amy Bergeron (Associate, Houston); Nischay Bhan (Associate, Houston).
Mr. Murphy was represented at trial and on appeal by Gibbs and Bruns attorneys Barrett H. Reasoner, Brice A. Wilkinson, Ross MacDonald, Conor McEvily, and Shannon N. Smith.
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