Lamont v. Vaquillas Energy Lopeno, Ltd.
Trade Secrets: Misappropriation: Misuse of the information contained in a treasure map constituted misappropriation of a trade secret.
Opinion (Alvarez): This was a dispute over whether a seismic map of a gas prospect constituted a trade secret and whether it was acquired through a violation of a confidential relationship or through improper means. Thomas Lamont ("Lamont") was principal of Ricochet Energy, Inc. ("Ricochet"). Vaquillas Energy Lopeno Ltd. LLP (Vaquillas") and JOB Energy Partners II, Ltd. ("JOB") entered into “prospect generation” agreements with Ricochet Energy, Inc in 2004 in order to extract gas from a plot of land. In 2007, Lamont left Ricochet. Before Lamont left, he requested that Ricochet’s geologist email him the seismic map of the land. Using that map, Lamont began to negotiate a lease with the owners of the property adjacent to Ricochet's leased property and then drilled to deplete the gas reservoir. Vaquillas sued Lamont and their respective companies. The parties agreed that the map qualified as a trade secret because of the extensive amount of work and $1 million invested in developing it. A jury found that Lamont misappropriated the seismic map and intentionally interfered with the prospect generation agreements. The only evidence in the record of any other attempt to lease the El Milagro property was by Ricochet, the record does not support Appellants’ assumption that if they had not drilled on the El Milagro property, someone else would have done so. Accordingly, the court AFFIRMED the trial court's judgment.