Health care company sues employee over confidentiality clause

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Jan. 21, 2009, 12:28pm

GALVESTON – A Houston-based health care services company has filed suit against a former employee for allegedly sharing confidential business information.

US Oncology Inc. accuses Galveston resident Bryan Manning of violating a contract clause that says the defendant was to strictly guard confidential information during and after employment.

The plaintiff alleges Manning, who was dismissed from USON in November 2008, shared information despite a stipulation guaranteeing he would not.

"Manning contacted one or more of USON's affiliated physician practices," the suit, which was filed by attorneys with Houston firm Ogletree, Deakins, Smoak, & Stewart PC on Jan. 13, says. "Manning represented to at least one of USON's affiliated physician practices that he could directly lower their cost by sharing in existing revenue streams the practice currently generates with USON."

It is unclear as to why the plaintiff originally relieved Manning of his duties. Prior to his termination, the defendant signed a release binding him to confidentiality.

"Manning, as a former employee, has a common law duty of confidentiality with respect to confidential and proprietary business information of USON," the suit says. "This duty continues even after his employment ceases."

USON officials say they wrote Manning a letter demanding he would "cease and desist contacting the company's affiliated physician practices and other customers, engaging in activities that interfered with USON's contractual and business relationships, and using and disclosing confidential or proprietary information."

The defendant reportedly did not heed the order.

"Manning persists in soliciting business relationships with USON's affiliated physician practices and/or other customers and offering to disclose USON's confidential and/or proprietary information," the suit says.

The plaintiff claims it has suffered actual damages and lost profits because of Manning's alleged acts. Consequently, the suit seeks to recover restitution from the defendant.

Galveston County 405th District Court Judge Wayne Mallia is presiding over the case.

Case No. 09CV0043

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