United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Peter J. Gleekel and Bradley J. Walz, WINTHROP & WEINSTINE, P.A., for plaintiff.
Carl T. George, Pro se. 
Patrick J. Schiltz, United States District Judge.
Plaintiff Reliable Property Services, LLC (" Reliable" ) provides snow-removal services to retail and commercial establishments, medical facilities, and other customers. Reliable alleges that defendant Carl George recently accessed Reliable's computer system and stole confidential customer information. Reliable brings this action against George and his company, Capital Growth Partners, LLC (" Capital" ), alleging violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (" CFAA" ), 18 U.S.C. § 1030, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 1201, and the Minnesota Uniform Trade Secrets Act, Minn. Stat. § § 325C.01 et seq.
This matter is before the Court on Reliable's motion for a preliminary injunction seeking to enjoin defendants from using the customer information and to require defendants to return it. For the reasons stated below, the motion is granted.
Reliable uses a software program called " SnowMaster" to facilitate almost all aspects of its business, from coordinating work crews to invoicing. Reliable, George, and Capital are embroiled in a dispute over the rights to the SnowMaster program. In December, Capital filed a lawsuit against Reliable and others in which Capital alleged, among other things, that the defendants had infringed Capital's copyright in the SnowMaster program. See Capital Growth Partners LLC v. Reliable Property Service LLC, No. 4:13-CV-2489 (JCH) (E.D. Mo. filed Dec. 13, 2013).
On the same day that Capital filed the Missouri lawsuit, Reliable learned that the SnowMaster program on its computer system had been disabled. There is no dispute that George was responsible for the shutdown. It appears that George accessed Reliable's computer system and installed or activated a piece of software -- which Reliable calls a " time bomb" and which George calls a " license management control" -- which allows George to disable the system and thus to cripple Reliable's business. George later agreed to re-enable the program, but he threatened to shut it down again unless Reliable met his demands with respect to the copyright dispute.
Reliable filed this lawsuit and sought a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction. At the hearing on Reliable's motion for a preliminary injunction, George agreed that he would not access Reliable's computer system nor do anything to disable the SnowMaster program on Reliable's system without the prior permission of a judge. Based on George's promise, the Court denied Reliable's motion for a preliminary injunction as moot.
A few days later, Reliable learned that, when George accessed its system, he not only implanted or activated the " time bomb," but he also obtained Reliable's confidential customer information, including invoices and billing information. See Walz Aff. Ex. 1. Reliable learned this in an email from George in which George threatened to publish the customer information that he had obtained unless Reliable met his demands with respect to the copyright dispute. Id. George claimed that the customer information showed that Reliable had grossly over-billed its customers for many years. Id. George threatened to organize a class-action lawsuit against Reliable to help its customers recover the alleged overcharges. Id. About a week later, dissatisfied with Reliable's response to his demands, George created two websites soliciting Reliable customers to join a proposed class action and disseminating the information that George obtained by accessing Reliable's computer system. Walz Aff. Ex. 2.
Reliable now moves for a preliminary injunction to prohibit George and Capital from using or disclosing any of the customer information that George obtained from Reliable, to require George and Capital to return all copies of that information to Reliable, and to order George and Capital to disable the websites through which they have been distributing the information. Capital failed to respond to Reliable's motion, and thus Reliable's motion is granted insofar as it applies to Capital and all of its members, managers, employees, agents, representatives, and attorneys. Cf. Van Stelton, 988 F.2d at 70 (corporations cannot appear pro se). Because George is a member and agent of Capital, the injunction against ...