Chancery Threatens Jail for Violation of Prior Court Order

W.L. Gore & Assoc., Inc. v. Wu, C.A. No. 7946-VCP, Order (Del. Ch. Nov. 2, 2012).

Why this case is blogworthy: This Order of the Delaware Court of Chancery held the defendant in contempt of court for violation of a prior order of the court, and the order specifies that if the defendant does not comply by the end of the month, he will be subject to incarceration. If he doesn’t appear in court by that date to establish his compliance, he will be arrested. There may not be another precedent in the modern history of the Court of Chancery that involved imprisoning a person for violation of its order–which it certainly has the power to do. The Delaware Court of Chancery handles civil cases only and is without jurisdiction over criminal matters, as readers of this blog are aware. 

Quick Overview of Case:

This case involves a permanent injunction issued in 2005 that barred the defendant from competing with his former employer and using trade secrets he acquired while working for his former employer. The initial preliminary injunction was stipulated to after a TRO was issued in connection with the breach of a covenant not to compete and the use of trade secrets and research learned by the defendant while he was working at W.L. Gore & Associates. An injunction was later made permanent after a full trial. Background details are available from summaries of prior rulings in this case available here and here.