Business Law

The lawyers of Fowkes Rodkey have extensive experience in the area of business counseling and litigation and offer clients big firm talent and expertise at small firm rates.

For instance, as a partner in Reed Smith’s commercial litigation group Joe Rodkey handled a wide range of complex cases all over Pennsylvania and in federal and state courts across the United States. For example Joe has litigated cases not only in most counties of Pennsylvania, but also in many states across the nation including, Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. In these cases, Joe represented many of the nation’s largest corporations, businesses and financial institutions in a wide variety of corporate, litigation, collection, arbitration and government regulatory matters. As a result, Joe has years of experience with complex business litigation including, intellectual property, trade secret, non-compete, corporate disparagement, unfair competition, contracts, distributor agreements, leases and shareholder disputes. Joe also has extensive experience in assisting clients in navigating the new federal obligations placed on parties with regard to electronically stored information (ESI) and data preservation (including forensic data recovery).

For years Joe has assisted numerous business clients with drafting and enforcing contracts. For instance, in Sheils v. Pfizer, Inc.,156 Fed. Appx. 446 (3rd. Cir. 2005), Joe obtained an affirmance from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit of the District Court order granting Joe’s client summary judgment on a breach of contract claim.

In other matters, in 2004, Joe was an integral part of the litigation team that represented the bond holders in the well publicized trial over the sale of the assets of Weirton Steel (the 5th largest integrated steel maker in the nation and the 2nd largest producer of tin) in the largest bankruptcy in West Virginia history.

In addition, Joe has assisted many business and individual clients in disputes over non-compete agreements, intellectual property, valuable trade secrets, confidential and proprietary information and good will. For instance, in International Settlement Design, Inc. v. Hickey, 25 Pa. D&C 4th 506 (Allegheny County 1995), Joe defended two individuals who left their employer to start their own business against claims from their former employer including breach of a non-compete agreements, theft of trade secrets and commercial disparagement. Joe busted the covenants not to compete convincing the court to rule that the agreements were so grossly overly broad that they should not be enforced at all and got that order affirmed on appeal. In addition, the court agreed with Joe’s argument that the customer lists and other information at issue were not trade secrets. Most recently, in Nucor Corporation v. Bell and SeverCorr, LLC, 482 F. Supp. 2d 714 (D.S.C. 2007), Joe represented an individual and his new employer against a panoply of claims including, breach of a non-disclosure and non-solicitation agreement the individual signed years after he commenced employment, theft of trade secrets and other claims. Joe was successful in gaining an early dismissal of the breach of non-disclosure and non-solicitation agreement for lack of consideration.

In another chapter of the Nucor litigation, Joe helped defend an individual accused of wiping allegedly relevant data from a computer. After a Daubert hearing on the qualifications of the parties’ computer forensics experts, the court excluded testimony of the opposing expert that a particular program to wipe data had been downloaded, installed, and used on Joe’s client’s laptop computer. Although the laptop had large blocks of “zeros” that the expert theorized could have been created by use of a secure delete function of the program, the court agreed with Joe’s expert and found that the version of the program placed on the laptop did not have a secure delete function. Nucor Corp. v. Bell, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86328 (D.S.C. Jan. 11, 2008).

Other of Joe’s reported commercial cases include, Latuszewski v. VALIC Financial Advisors, Inc., 2005 WL 1367809 (3rd. Cir. 2005), where Joe represented the former employer and convinced the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm the District Court’s grant of a preliminary injunction that protected the unauthorized disclosure and use of the former employer’s trade secrets and Arnold v. Pennsylvania, Dept. of Transp., 477 F.3d 105 (3rd Cir., 2007), where Joe helped a private construction company beat back a media outlet’s attempt to pierce a court ordered confidentiality agreement to attempt exploit confidential information disclosed in court proceedings.

In addition to litigating non-compete, trade secrets and confidential information cases, for years Joe has helped companies protect their intellectual property and good will by providing skilled advice and guidance to clients on the hiring end of the spectrum and through drafting and enforcement of confidentiality, non-solicitation and non-competition agreements. In fact, Joe has drafted confidentiality and non-compete programs for a host of large and small businesses and corporations all across the country.

While not a reported case, Joe represented the founding partners of Superior Well Services, Inc. (“SWSI”) when they broke from Haliburton and were sued by Haliburton in federal court in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent them from starting the business that has grown from a handful of employees to a national company employing thousands. The company was eventually acquired by Nabors Industries for $900 Million.

Also, in a high profile case featured in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and other major media outlets, Joe was second chair for the defense team representing Allegheny College and several individual defendants that obtained summary judgment for numerous individual college administrators and a defense verdict for the College and its counselor after a two-week jury trial in Mahoney v. Allegheny College, AD 892-2003, a college student suicide liability action of national importance. and