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General Linen Service, Inc. v. General Linen Service Co. Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

October 20, 2015

General Linen Service, Inc.
v.
General Linen Service Co., Inc. Opinion No. 15 DNH 195

Sara Yevics Beccia, Esq. Dennis J. Kelly, Esq. James F. Laboe, Esq. Laura Witney Lee, Esq. Andrea L. Martin Esq. Paul R. Mastrocola, Esq. Joseph Gardner Mattson, Esq. Jeffrey C. Spear, Esq.

ORDER

LANDYA MCCARFFERTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

General Linen Service, Inc. brings suit against General Linen Service Company, Inc., asserting various state law claims and a claim under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (the “CFAA”). Defendant moves for summary judgment on plaintiff’s CFAA claim. Plaintiff objects. On October 5, 2015, the court heard oral argument on defendant’s motion.

Standard of Review

A movant is entitled to summary judgment where he “shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and [that he] is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). In reviewing the record, the court construes all facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Kelley v. Corr. Med. Servs., Inc., 707 F.3d 108, 115 (1st Cir. 2013) .

Background

Plaintiff, General Linen Service, Inc., is a company located in Newburyport, Massachusetts, which provides linen and uniform rental services to the healthcare, restaurant, and hospitality communities in New England. For purposes of this order, the court will refer to plaintiff as “GLN.” Defendant, General Linen Service Company, Inc., is a company located in Somersworth, New Hampshire, which provides similar services in New England. The court will refer to defendant as “GLS.”

GLN maintains customer information in digital format, as does GLS, and both companies use the same software vendor, Alliant Systems, Inc. (“Alliant”). In addition, GLN allows its customers to access their accounts and transact business online, through a “web portal.” On April 1, 2010, one of GLN’s customers, 1640 Hart House (“Hart House”), reported to GLN that it had received a sales pitch from a GLS representative who, during the course of his presentation, provided Hart House with a package of GLN’s invoices. GLN deduced that at least one of the invoices had been obtained through the web portal.

GLN’s General Manager, Scott Van Pelt, learned through Alliant that the web portal had been accessed on several occasions by the username “admin.” Alliant explained to Van Pelt that it had created the “admin” user account to allow for maintenance and troubleshooting of GLN’s accounts.

On April 8, 2010, Van Pelt traced the “admin” user to an IP address registered to GLS. He then had Alliant change the password for the “admin” username. He worked “to determine how the breach occurred, who was responsible and what information may have been compromised.” Van Pelt Decl. (doc. no. 58-2) at 5.

From April 1, 2010 (the date Van Pelt first learned that there may have been a network intrusion) through the following two weeks, Van Pelt dedicated himself “on a full-time basis” to investigating the data breach. See Id. at ¶¶ 4-5. In his deposition, Van Pelt described himself as working “around the clock” during this time period. Van Pelt Dep. (doc. no. 56-4) at 17. The investigation “took valuable time away from [Van Pelt’s] day-to-day responsibilities.” Doc. no. 58-2 at 5. Van Pelt also shut down the web portal for anywhere from five days to two weeks during the investigation.

In addition, GLN’s sales manager, Jason Proulx, assisted Van Pelt with the investigation. Proulx also dedicated two weeks “on a full-time basis” to investigating the data breach. See Id. at ¶ 8. The work “took valuable time away from [] Proulx’s day-to-day activities.” Id. Van Pelt also met with attorneys over the next several months “to assist in the investigation and (among other things) stop [GLS] from using stolen information." Id. at 1 9. Van Pelt states that he dedicated a substantial amount of time during the year following the breach to the investigation. In answers to interrogatories, GLN broke down Van Pelt's and Proulx's salaries into hourly wages, excluding overtime, as follows: Van Pelt earned $24 per hour and Proulx $19.25 per hour. PI.'s Resps. to Interrogs. (doc. no. 56-10) at 5.

This action followed. GLN asserts claims against GLS under the CFAA, New Hampshire's Consumer Protection Act, New Hampshire's Trade Secret Act, and New Hampshire common law.[1] ...


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