Through a series of preliminary rulings, the Central District of California has found that a nonprofit organization’s confidential membership list could constitute a trade secret under the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA). The case is Brain Injury Association of California v. Yari, No. CV 19-5912-MWF (JCX) (C.D. Cal.).
The plaintiff, Brain Injury Association of California (BIAC), alleges that a former BIAC board member, Naz Yari, took off with BIAC’s “master list”—a detailed compilation of data regarding 100,000 members of the traumatic brain injury community. BIAC used the master list to plan its annual conference, which boasted thousands of attendees and half a million dollars of funds raised. Immediately after resigning from the BIAC board, Yari formed a new nonprofit organization, Brain Society of California (BSC), and began planning a competing conference on BSC’s behalf. BIAC brought suit for misappropriation of trade secrets, among other claims, in July 2019. In August 2019, the court issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting Yari from accessing, using, or disclosing any contact information from BIAC’s master list.
The court concluded that the master list could constitute a trade secret under the DTSA because the list contained valuable data that went beyond mere contact information, such as “an individual’s interest in certain [traumatic brain injury] topics and speakers[,]” “historical attendance at TBI events, involvement in other community groups, and relationships with other members of the community.” And BIAC allegedly took reasonable measures to keep the master list confidential, such as storing it on a secure database, limiting access to only two individuals, and instructing those individuals that they could use the list only for limited purposes. Since the issuance of the temporary restraining order, all defendants have been dismissed except for BSC. The court rejected BSC’s motion to dismiss, allowing the case to move forward.