As stated, plaintiff has also submitted copies of two decisions from
other cases. On September 28, 2001, however, the Appellate Division,
Fourth Department, modified the lower court's order in Piper by denying
the defendant's cross-motion, and reinstating all the claims that the
lower court had dismissed.*fn2 Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Piper,
731 N.Y.S.2d 409 (4th Cir. 2001). The lower court's decision, therefore,
while entitled to some weight, is certainly not binding on this court.
See Commissioner v. Estate of Bosch, 387 U.S. 456, 465 (1967) ("in
diversity cases . . . while the decrees of lower state courts should be
attributed some weight . . . the decision [is] not controlling . . .
where the highest court of the State has not spoken on the point")
(internal quotation marks omitted); Calvin Klein Ltd. v. Trylon Trucking
Corp., 892 F.2d 191, 195 (2d Cir. 1989) ("Absent a rule of decision
formulated by the New York Court of Appeals, we are not bound by the
opinions issued by the state's lowest courts") (internal citations
Moreover, the court in Piper did not enunciate some broad rule of law,
but only held that on the facts before it, the information that the
defendant in that case had taken with him was not confidential. Even
though that case also involved Nationwide, I cannot simply import that
judge's findings wholesale into this case, which, though it may involve
the same type of Agent's Agreement, is nevertheless based on a different
set of underlying facts.
With respect to Chief Judge Scullin's decision in Fisher, it suffices
to note that he only denied Nationwide's motion for a preliminary
injunction; he did not grant summary judgment in favor of the
defendant-agent, which is what plaintiff seeks here. In addition, while
the court in Fisher expressed some skepticism about the merits of
Nationwide's claims, the court also stopped short of making any
definitive rulings about the materials at issue. For example, the court
stated that "it may be that [the agent] has a proprietary interest in the
information . . .," slip op. at 5 (emphasis added); "the Court is not
convinced, on the present record, that the information contained in the
policyholder files is not readily reproducible or that [Nationwide] put a
great deal of value in these files," slip op. at 11 (emphasis added);
"there is a serious question regarding whether Plaintiffs or Defendant
has the superior proprietary interest in the policyholder files . . .,"
slip op. at 11 (emphasis added); and that "the Court is willing to give
[Nationwide] the benefit of the doubt and find that there may be
sufficiently serious questions going to the merits of this matter . . . ."
Slip op. at 12 (emphasis added). Thus, the decision in Fisher hardly
established that policyholder files of the type at issue here are never
trade secrets, or that they always belong to the insurance agent rather
than to Nationwide.
Defendants' motion for reconsideration (Docket Item 20) and plaintiff's
cross-motion for reconsideration (Docket Item 22) of this court's
Decision and Order entered on March 29, 2001, are both denied.
IT IS SO ORDERED.