Wednesday, March 11, 2009, 3/11/2009 09:17:00 AM

Kansas Jury Awards $17.5 Million Trade Secrets Verdict

By Todd

A Manhattan, Kansas electronics design and manufacturing company has been awarded nearly $17.5 million in actual and punitive damages in a lawsuit alleging breach of contract, fraud, fraudulent concealment and misappropriation of trade secrets after a deal with a French company to make a propeller deicing system dissolved.

Randy O’Boyle, president and CEO of ICE Corp.in Manhattan, said he learned of the verdict today. The case went to trial in early February at the Frank Carlson Federal Building, with U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson presiding.

“We were successful,” O’Boyle said. “More than anything it means the big companies of the world can’t get away with mistreating the smaller companies.”

In the lawsuit, originally filed on Nov. 15, 2005, ICE Corp. alleged it entered into a contract with Ratier-Figeac, a French company, for the design, development and manufacture of a propeller deicing controller for an A400 M, a military transport aircraft being developed by Airbus.
Ratier-Figeac is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hamilton Sundstrand Inc., a Connecticut corporation, according to court records. The French company manufactures parts and ships them to Hamilton for assembly and testing.

The lawsuit said an upgrade to the system, changes in its design and other factors increased the costs of the component and its development, and in June 2005, Ratier-Figeac representatives instructed ICE to cease all development work.

In addition to breach of contract, ICE Corp. alleged the defendants “wrongfully appropriated confidential, proprietary and trade secret information” the Manhattan company created to a French competitor.

Tom Buchanan, attorney for ICE Corp., said today the nearly $17.5 million award includes:
-- $153,000 in actual damages, against Ratier-Figeac for breach of good faith and fair dealing.
-- $4.79 million in actual damages, against Ratier-Figeac for misappropriation of trade secrets.
-- $10 million in punitive damages, against Ratier-Figeac for intentional misappropriation of trade secrets.
-- $35,000 in actual damages, against Hamilton Sundstrand for unjust enrichment.
-- $2.5 million in punitive damages, against Hamilton Sundstrand for intentional misappropriation of trade secrets.

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