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Boeing named in lawsuit over theft of proprietary data

In what might be a "David vs. Goliath" case, Alabama Aircraft, which performed maintenance on the Boeing KC-135 planes for decades, is suing the world's largest manufacturer of commercial planes claiming Boeing stole its proprietary data. The complaint states that it was their proprietary data that helped the Boeing Company secure $1.3 billion in Air Force maintenance contracts for the KC-135 planes. Boeing Company has facilities in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The small Alabama Company, which first filed its rather broad lawsuit last September, makes a connection in the suit between maintenance contracts for the KC-135 aircraft and the major procurement scandal around 2005 that sent an official from the Air Force acquisition department and the former CFO of Boeing to federal prison.

Although Boeing had filed a motion to have the suit dismissed on the grounds that the basis of the case had already been determined in a series of prior lawsuits, a judge informed both parties in the suit to prepare their arguments for a hearing in late May. The judge wants both parties to agree on a schedule for the discovery phase of the trial.

A trustee for the company that bought Alabama Aircraft's assets out of a bankruptcy said the judge's decision is a step in the right direction for their case. The suit is seeking $100 million in total damages. Alabama Aircraft had argued that the theft of the data is what pushed the company into bankruptcy and resulted in hundreds of lost jobs.

In its motion to request the suits dismissal, Boeing argued that even if the company was able to win the case, it would only recover compensatory damages, nothing more.

Source: Reuters, "Hearing set for Alabama firm's suit against Boeing," April 18, 2012

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