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Peterson v. XPO Logistics, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division

November 2, 2017

AARON PETERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
XPO LOGISTICS, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          DALE A. KIMBALL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court on Defendant XPO Logistics, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. On October 18, 2017, the court held a hearing on the motion. At the hearing, Plaintiff was represented by Brent A. Orozco, and Defendant was represented by Robert H. Smeltzer and Vincent J. Velardo. The court took the motion under advisement. After carefully considering the parties' memoranda and the law and facts relevant to the pending motion, the court issues the following Memorandum Decision and Order.

         BACKGROUND

         Aaron Peterson worked for Defendant XPO until June 2015, when he left to work for Leeway Global Logistics, LLC, one of XPO's competitors in the third-party logistics business. On September 26, 2015, XPO sued Leeway and Peterson in this district, XPO Logistics, Inc. v. Leeway Global Logistics, LLC, et al., No. 2:15cv703CW (“Underlying Action”). XPO's Complaint in the Underlying Action alleges that Peterson breached the confidentiality, non-solicitation and non-competition covenants of his XPO Employment Agreement. XPO also alleged that Peterson and Leeway misappropriated XPO's trade secrets and that Leeway tortiously interfered with Peterson's XPO Employment Agreement.

         Peterson brought this action against XPO for defamation, tortious interference, false light, injurious falsehood, and identity theft in connection with the publication of emails by XPO's counsel in the Underlying Action. On April 20, 2016, at a hearing on a motion to dismiss in the Underlying Action, XPO's counsel referenced “unassailable evidence from Mr. Peterson himself” that allegedly implicated Peterson in targeting XPO's employees, information, and customers in violation of his XPO Employment Agreement. On April 29, 2016, XPO's counsel sent Leeway's counsel an email, entitled “XPO v. Leeway - Inadmissible FRE 408 Discussion, ” that contained an email purportedly sent from Peterson to Josh Morin, dated April 19, 2016, and a reply email purportedly sent back from Morin to Peterson the same day. The first email that Peterson purportedly sent to Josh Morin states:

Josh,
As you are well aware we are in full swing with Hanjin.
MTD - 65 shipments for over 123, 000 in gross margin.
We are being pestered for a tracking application. Do you have a go live date? I know we are waiting for Casey's contract to end with XPO before we proceeded full speed however I am wondering how much longer I can actually keep them at bay. Did you and Casey A. Come to a conclusion about a start date? Casey McKell is wanting to put some leads aside for when Casey A comes on board full steam. Will you let Casey M know how the conversation went on Friday with Casey A?
Thank you.
AP
The response purportedly from Morin to Peterson that same day stated:
Aaron,
I am ecstatic to hear Hanjin is working out well for ...

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