Maia Pharma Sues Ex-Director Over Trade Secrets

Last Friday, Maia Pharmaceuticals, Inc., filed suit in the District of New Jersey against Sasank Kunadharaju for alleged misappropriation of confidential business information.

Maia, a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Princeton, New Jersey, describes itself in the complaint as “specialty pharmaceutical company” established in 2013.  More specifically, Maia alleges that it “… is not a traditional generics company.  It develops products that are improvements over existing patent medications by addressing challenges in formulation and manufacturing processes.”  The complaint continues, “The generics marketplace is extremely competitive, and the dissemination of MAIA’s trade secrets, and confidential and proprietary information to competitors would threaten  the Company’s  survival.”

Maia alleges that it hired Kunadharaju in September 2020 as “Senior Director,  Product Development,” a position that gave Kunadharaju a “… deep understanding of the Company’s product development process…” and made him “… privy to the Company’s most confidential information.”   The complaint recites details of two separate confidentiality agreements Kunadharaju allegedly entered into with Maia, one at the time of Kunadharaju’s hiring and one a year later.

Maia alleges that Kunadharaju advised on January 14 of his intention to resign effective February 4, 2022.  Maia further alleges that six days later it presented Kunadharaju “… with a normal course termination agreement, which — if executed — would have entitled him to receive a severance payment.”  According to Maia, “The draft agreement, among other things, included an affirmation of Defendant’s existing contractual non-disclosure, confidentiality, as well as non-competition, obligations to the Company.”

Maia states that Kunadharaju refused to sign the agreement and advised that “… he preferred to be bound only be his existing confidentiality and non-competition agreements …,” which made Maia “suspicious.”

The complaint recounts in great detail the forensic examination of Kunadharaju’s laptop after he left and the communications between Maia and Kunadharaju regarding information Maia believes he took.  According to Maia, Kunadharaju improperly downloaded about 30,000 documents in his last year at Maia, 10,000 of them shortly before departing.  Maia notes that Kunadharaju denied wrongdoing in pre-litigation communications.

The complaint alleges four causes of action: “Violation of [the federal] Defend Trade Secret Act”; Violation of New Jersey Uniform Trade Secrets Act”; “Breach of Confidentiality Agreements”; and “Breach of Fiduciary Duty.”  The last cause of action alleges that Kunadharaju breached his duty of loyalty as an officer and employee of Maia.

In addition to seeking monetary relief, Maia demands that the court “temporarily, preliminarily and permanently” enjoin and/or restrain Kunadharaju from accessing or using Maia’s confidential information and from disseminating it; requiring him to disclose whom he has shared such information with; and compelling him to provide information to assist Maia and its expert to assess what information  he has allegedly taken. Maia is represented by the Law Office of David R. Lurie, PLLC in Brooklyn and Porzio,  Bromberg & Newman in Morristown, New Jersey