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Former MLB pitcher re-files lawsuit against Astros

It’s the second attempt to sue them for damages over the sign stealing scheme from 2017.

Did not age well

Continuing to maintain that the Astros’ 2017 sign stealing cost him a job in the major leagues, former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Mike Bolsinger refiled his lawsuit against the team in Harris County District Court on Thursday afternoon.

Bolsinger, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since allowing four runs and four walks in a third of an inning against the Astros on Aug. 4, 2017, contends his signs were trade secrets under Texas’ Uniform Trade Secrets Act. He is seeking more than $1 million in damages.

A judge in California dismissed Bolsinger’s lawsuit in March, citing in part an attempt by Bolsinger and his attorneys to try to extract sympathy from potential jurors who were fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team the Astros beat in the 2017 World Series. In March 2020, the Astros asked a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to dismiss the suit in a motion that called the case “utterly devoid of merit.”

[…]

Bolsinger’s new suit claims the Blue Jays’ signs are defined as “trade secrets” under section 134A.002(6) of the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Bolsinger alleges “willful and intentional misappropriation of the trade secrets.”

“The owners of these trade secrets had taken the reasonable measures customary in the baseball industry to keep the signs secret,” Bolsinger’s suit reads. “Moreover, the signs derived independent economic value, actual or potential, from not generally being known to, and not being readily ascertainable through proper means by, another person who can obtain economic value from the disclosure or use of the information.”

See here and here for the background, and here for a copy of the lawsuit, which is also embedded in the story. I either missed the dismissal of the original case or I just never got around to blogging it. Regardless, and in my vast legal experience as some guy on the Internet, this sure seems like a longshot. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if the signs were a trade secret, they wouldn’t be trivially easy to crack. I have a hard time believing this will survive a motion to dismiss. You actual lawyers out there, please feel free to tell me why I’m wrong about this.

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One Comment

  1. Kenneth Fair says:

    As someone who just went through a three-week trial on trade-secret misappropriation, let me just say, nope, no way.

    You can sue for trade-secret misappropriation only if the trade secret was not “readily ascertainable through proper means.” Improper means would be something like hiring an employee of the opposing team to learn what the signs were. But that’s not what happened. The Astros worked out what the signs were by reverse engineering – watching them and figuring out the code. That’s perfectly legal. In other words, the signs were in fact “readily ascertainable through proper means” and thus not trade secrets.

    The Astros’ alleged wrongdoing was not figuring out the signs, it’s that they were communicating those signs to the hitters in real time. So even if you assume that the signs are trade secrets – which is a stretch, given that they are out in the open for everyone to see – there’s no misappropriation case here.

    Clever try, though.