Plaintiffs Remove Restaurant Trade Secrets Case to Federal Court, Arguing the Case Raises Question of Federal Copyright Law

On Tuesday, Luis Silva, Ernest Lozano and Don Marisco Restaurant, LLC filed a notice of removal removing the case of Soberon Investments, L.L.C. et al. v. Silva et al. from Texas state court to the Southern District of Texas. 

According to the original complaint, plaintiff Soberon Investments is a Texas limited liability company doing business as La Costa Grill, and plaintiff Restaurant Mariscos La Costa, LLC is a Texas limited liability company, and both plaintiffs are sister corporations that operate in the restaurant business. Further, the complaint states that the defendants Luis Silva, Ernest Lozano and Don Marisco Restaurant, LLC conduct business as Don Marisco Restaurant and operate in the restaurant industry. 

The complaint alleges that, in 2010, the plaintiffs La Costa hired Silva as kitchen manager for Mariscos La Costa in San Juan, Texas and in 2015 later hired Silva as kitchen manager for La Costa’s La Costa Grill location in McAllen, Texas. The complaint purports that Silva signed and executed a confidentiality agreement in which he agreed to hold and protect La Costa’s trade secrets in consideration of his employment. 

The plaintiffs allege that as kitchen manager Silva was given access to trade secrets and confidential business information. Additionally, the plaintiffs purport that during Silva’s employment, he divulged, published and transferred La Costa’s trade secrets and confidential business information to the defendants to start a competing restaurant business together. 

The complaint states that within weeks of Silva’s resignation, the defendants opened the ​​Don Marisco Restaurant in Edinburg, Texas at a location that had been previously scouted by the defendants in efforts to expand their business. The plaintiffs argue that Silva used the plaintiff’s confidential information to open Don Marisco Restaurant in the strategic location they scouted. 

Accordingly, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in Texas state court alleging breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential business information, breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference seeking a temporary restraining order and damages. 

The notice of removal states that, during a deposition conducted on May 27, 2022, the plaintiffs admitted that their claim for misappropriation was a violation of federal copyright law. Therefore, the defendants filed the notice of removal because United States District Courts have original jurisdiction over Copyright Act claims. 

The plaintiffs are represented by Dale and Klein, LLP, and the defendants are represented by the Law Office of Robert D. Puente, PLLC.