Suit accuses competitor of stealing technology used in oil spill cleanup

Michelle Massey Aug. 30, 2010, 11:41am


A subcontractor involved in the Gulf oil spill cleanup effort accuses a competitor of stealing a newly-developed technology used to skim and extract oil in shallow and environmentally-sensitive areas.

Core 4 Kebawk and Larry Howell filed suit against Ralph's Concrete Pumping Inc., Southern Construction and Development, Tim Henson, Michael Turner, Danny Blevins and C.J. Ogden Aug. 20 in federal court in New Orleans.

The product at issue is an assembly unit that included a shallow-water skimmer and an extraction unit positioned at the end of a placement boom for the purpose of extracting stranded booms. In addition to the assembly unit, Howell claims he developed the processes for use of equipment in connection with the flushing and cleaning of oil-impacted waters and areas.

Defendant Henson is accused of trying to replicate the assembly unit technology and processes. According to the complaint, defendant Blevins stole certain Core 4 equipment from an oil-cleaning barge on Aug. 5.

Defendants Ralph's, Southern, Henson, Turner, Ogden and Blevins are accused of a conspiracy to sabotage and disable the technology and equipment, damage Core 4's operations, and to wrongfully obtain propriety and confidential equipment, processes and trade secrets.

Core 4 is currently applying for a patent for the assembly unit technology and processes.

The suit alleges the defendants are currently constructing clean-up barges designed to copy Core 4's clean-up barge, associated equipment and technology.

The defendants are accused of violating Louisiana's Uniform Trade Secrets Act, unjust enrichment and unfair trade practices in violation of the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act.

Howell is asking the court to issue a restraining order preventing the defendants from stealing or trespassing, requiring the defendants to return any stolen property, preventing the defendants from interference with Core 4 Kebawk's business operations, and stopping the defendants from copying or utilizing Core 4's assembly unit technology and processes.

He is seeking actual damages, costs, interest and attorney fees.

Howell is represented by L. J. Hymel, Michael Reese Davis and Tim P. Hartdegen of Hymel Davis & Petersen in New Orleans. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10cv02792

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