NEW ORLEANS (CN) – A privately owned petroleum purifying company sued The Financial Times Group, claiming the media have no right to publish data about its quarterly earnings.
Rain CII Carbon LLC sued Debtwire North America and its corporate parent, The Financial Times Group, and Debtwire reporter Stephen Kurczy in Orleans Parish Court. It claims the defendants violated the Louisiana Uniform Trade Secret Act for threatening to publish an article containing its confidential financial information.
Rain Carbon turns petroleum coke, a coal-like byproduct of oil refining, into a purer carbon substance used in the production of aluminum.
“Rain is a privately held company and it derives economic value of compilations of its financial information not being generally known,” the complaint states.
It continues: “Rain also makes reasonable efforts to maintain the secrecy of compilations of its confidential financial information by requiring all parties who have access to the same in the course of evaluating bonds to certify that they will not use the information for any other purpose.”
Rain claims that access to its website is contingent upon acceptance of a confidentiality agreement that states: “‘As a condition of receiving access to this website, you agree to treat all information which is contained therein as confidential’ …”
Rain says it published its 2012 second quarter earnings and financial information its website on July 30, for its bond lenders and “to which access was allowed only to those who certified they would not disclose the information.”
“This publication included Rain management’s confidential discussion and analysis of Rain’s financial condition and results of operations,” the complaint states.
The next day, Rain says, Kurczy sent an email to Rain’s public relations manager about the second quarter earnings.
“The information contained in Kurczy’s email was identical to the confidential financial data which had been published on the secure website the previous day,” the complaint states.
Kurczy said he was working on an article about Rain’s second quarter earnings, and “clearly indicated that he would publish Rain’s improperly obtained financial data,” according to the complaint.
Rain says it told Kurczy by email and telephone that he is not allowed to release any financial information about Rain CII Carbon.
“Kurczy refused to disclose how he obtained the confidential financial information and said he was going to go forward with releasing the article and disclosing the improperly obtained information,” the complaint states.
“Kurczy also was contacted by Collen Burghardt Ulrich, Rain’s Chief Financial Officer, who reiterated Rain’s position. … Kurczy also attempted to contact Rain President and Chief Executive Officer Gerard M. Sweeney about his proposed article on Rain’s quarterly earnings that were obtained improperly.
“Defendants clearly believe they will derive economic value from publishing this confidential financial data and publishing same will give them a commercial advantage and apparently intend to do so despite obtaining the information improperly and being warned by Rain not to do so.”
Rain seeks declaratory judgment, an injunction and damages for “Maliciously misappropriat(ing) its confidential data.
It is represented by James Garner, with Sher Garner Cahill Richter Klein & Hilbert.