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Astro-Med, Inc. v. Nihon Kohden America, Inc.

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Nihon appealed an unfair competition judgment after being sued by Astro-Med for being hired by a competing company, Nihon Kohden America, despite signing a noncompetition, nondisclosure, and forum-selection clause.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    Venue is proper where a substantial part of the events giving rise to the claim occurred.

    Facts.

    Kevin Plant (Plant) signed a noncompetition, nondisclosure, and a forum selection clause naming Rhode Island as the forum state when he was hired by Astro-Med. When Astro-Med relocated Plant to Florida at Plant’s request, Nihon Kohden America (Nihon) hired Plant from under Astro-Med to sell competing products. Astro-Med sued Plant and Nihon for unfair competition and Plant appealed.

    Issue.

    Whether venue is proper where a substantial part of the events giving rise to the claim occurred?

    Held.

    Yes. Venue was proper and the district court’s judgment is affirmed. A substantial part of the events took part in Rhode Island because Astro-Med is headquartered in Rhode Island, negotiated the contract and hired Plant in Rhode Island, trade secrets were misappropriated in Rhode Island, and the harm was suffered in Rhode Island.

    Discussion.

    28 U.S.C. § 1391 makes venue proper wherever a substantial part of the events occurred.


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