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Bright House Networks, LLC v. Cassidy

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 01-10-2014
Case #: 2D13-1055
Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District
Full Text Opinion: http://www.2dca.org/opinions/Opinion_Pages/Opinion_Pages_2014/January/ January%2010,%202014/2D13-1055.pdf
LexisNxis Link: 2014 Fla. App. LEXIS 249
Westlaw Link: 2014 WL 84237

Trade Secrets: Petition for Writ of Certiorari: Where a party objects to the disclosure of information on the grounds that it is a trade secret, the trial court must determine if the information is in fact a trade secret, and secondly, if the information is protected the requesting party must show a reasonable necessity for the information.

Opinion (Silberman): Bright House Networks, LLC (“Bright House”) provides a variety of cable
related services, including high speed internet, telephone, and television packages. In 1984, the
Cassidy family (“Cassidys”) entered into a contract with Bright House’s predecessor in interest
which perpetually granted certain members of the Cassidy family all channels, programming,
and future channels that may be added by the cable company, completely free of cost and
charges so long as they lived within Bright House’s service area. In January 2010, Bright
House cancelled all free cable services to Cassidys. The Cassidys won a breach of contract
claim against Bright House, who resumed the Cassidys’ cable service. Bright House then
started issuing 1099 tax forms to the Cassidys. The Cassidys filed another suit for breach of
contract which claimed Bright House was failing to provide cable service free of all charges. The
Cassidys assert that Bright House is not filing 1099 forms for others customers that receive free
services or considerations from the company, and sought to prove that by requesting customer
service information during discovery. Bright House claimed that this customer information was a
trade secret because of the competitive nature of the cable customer service. After resisting
several orders to compel production, Bright House filed a writ of certiorari with the appeals
court. The panel quashed the order compelling discovery. The panel held that the lower
court was in error when it ordered Bright House to provide customer information without first
addressing Bright House’s assertion that such information was a trade secret, and that further
hearings may be necessary for the lower court to determine if the information is indeed eligible
for trade secret protection.