Mortenson Taggart Obtains Dismissal Of Ninth Circuit Appeal

September 10, 2020 (Los Angeles, CA) – Mortenson Taggart obtained dismissal of Ninth Circuit appeal securing 5.5 million-dollar judgment for client Livewirecyber, Inc., dba HS2 Academy. 

HS2 Academy, one of the largest educational consulting firms in the country, was awarded over $2.6 million in compensatory damages, $2.6 million in punitive damages, and $327,150 in attorney fees and costs after showing that a competitor had been misappropriating its intellectual property and hacking into its computer system to steal client and other proprietary information. 

Young Scholars Institute LLC – owned and operated by defendants Steve Seung Moke Park and Neal Ivan Lee – directly competed with HS2 Academy in the college prep course and tutoring services fields. After several months of head-to-head competition, HS2 started hearing from its customers that Young Scholars Institute LLC was using copyrighted programs and other materials created by HS2. 

HS2 Academy originally filed suit back in January 2017 in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, asserting claims for copyright infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets, and unfair competition. The case dragged on for more than two and a half years with no resolution.

In August 2019, HS2 Academy retained trial attorney Kevin Adams, a partner at Mortenson Taggart LLP, to try the case in early 2020. While preparing for trial, Mr. Adams pieced together strong circumstantial evidence that linked Defendants to the IP addresses used to access HS2 Academy’s computer system. With this new evidence, Mr. Adams petitioned the District Court for leave to seek additional discovery on the IP addresses used to hack into HS2’s system. The petition was granted, and third-party internet records were acquired. These records conclusively showed that Defendants had been continually accessing HS2 Academy’s computer system prior to and throughout the litigation. 

Not only was Mr. Adams able to show that Defendants had engaged in the unlawful conduct underlying the lawsuit, but also that Defendants had brazenly hacked into HS2 Academy’s computer and calendaring systems nearly 2,800 times to access and steal proprietary materials and customer information. With this new evidence in hand, HS2 pursued a motion for terminating sanctions.

On December 27, 2019, and just over two weeks before trial, District Judge André Birotte granted HS2 Academy’s motion and later entered a final judgment and permanent injunction in favor of HS2 Academy against defendants, jointly and severally, in an amount of more than $5.5 million, including attorney fees and costs. 

The defendants filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal. Mortenson Taggart LLP handled the appeal. 

On September 10, 2020, the Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeal for failure to prosecute, thereby securing HS2 Academy’s judgment and permanent injunction.