The Mayo Clinic has settled with a former executive whom the clinic accused of leaving for another job with trade secrets in hand.
The clinic and Mayo Medical Laboratories settled this week with Dr. Franklin Cockerill III, former chair of Mayo's laboratory medicine and pathology department and president and CEO of the laboratories. Cockerill left Mayo for a job that began Oct. 1 as chief laboratory officer for Quest Diagnostics, a diagnostic laboratory company headquartered in Madison, N.J.
Mayo had filed a lawsuit against Cockerill in October accusing him of taking trade secrets with him. Neither Cockerill nor Mayo admitted to any wrongdoing as part of the settlement. Mayo has agreed to dismiss its lawsuit against Cockerill.
Cockerill will not work or consult for Mayo's largest competitors for two years, according to the terms of the settlement. He will return all confidential information taken from Mayo and promise not to use or reveal it in the future; and he will pay part of the cost of Mayo's litigation expenses.
“Although preserving his integrity and professional reputation is of great importance to Dr. Cockerill, the distraction and expense of further litigation became too burdensome for Dr. Cockerill and his family,” said Nancy Vollertsen, one of Cockerill's attorneys at Lindquist and Vennum, in a statement.
Cockerill maintains that he was a loyal Mayo employee and had no intention of harming Mayo, where he worked for more than 30 years and where several members of his family still work, according to the statement.
“He was dismayed that Mayo did not offer him the opportunity to explain his actions, but instead summarily sued him for presumptive misuse of confidential information, forcing him to expend considerable resources to defend his integrity and professional reputation,” Vollertsen said in the statement.
Mayo also released a statement, saying it “did not take this action lightly.”
“However, we firmly believe that legal action was necessary to protect our confidential and trade secret information against improper disclosure,” according to the Mayo statement. “We understand that our staff members move to other organizations, and, when they do so in a transparent manner, we can cooperatively manage any conflicts of interest during their transition and we can protect our confidential and trade secret information without resorting to litigation.”
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