September 26, 2019 10:27:35 AM
A Ridgeland-based data recovery software company filed suit in federal court last week against the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors and Chancery Clerk Sharon Livingston for breach of contract.
Medir Government Solutions alleges the county's switch to another firm unlawfully broke a contract and allowed the other firm to steal their intellectual property. The company filed its complaint in the Southern District of Mississippi on Sept. 19, and the summons was issued Monday to Livingston and the board of supervisors.
According to the complaint, Medir began a contract with the county in April 2015 for the use of MGS Recorder, a database used to store and search county property deeds and other public records. The software was installed into a computer at the chancery clerk's office. Then-clerk Monica Banks died in 2016, and Livingston was appointed and later elected to succeed her.
Court documents include a letter Board of Supervisors Attorney Rob Roberson wrote W. Thomas McCraney, Medir's attorney, on May 13 notifying him that the county was ending the contract. Livingston emailed Medir president Richard Greenlee on March 29 to tell him the county was switching to DuProcess, part of Alliance Renewable Technologies, Inc., Roberson wrote.
The complaint claims the county switched to DuProcess before the May 13 letter "without Medir's knowledge or consent" and that the switch allowed Alliance to access and pirate Medir's information. Roberson said Wednesday the complaint is unfounded.
"We didn't let anybody look at their secret sauce, their secret information," he said. "We mainly just hired a different company to do exactly what they do, and they've already got their way of doing it. All we did was take that information and plug it into our system."
The complaint further alleges Livingston and the board of supervisors broke two federal laws and one state law in addition to the breach of contract claim. The federal Defend Trade Secrets Act and state Mississippi Uniform Trade Secrets Act allow entities to sue in federal court over the alleged theft or mishandling of intellectual property, and the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act prohibits access to a computer without or in excess of authorization.
Cannon Cochran Management Services, the county boards' insurance carrier, will represent the county in the lawsuit. The presiding judge is U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves.
Roberson advised Livingston not to comment on the suit, but he said she was not happy with Medir's system and asked the company several times to fix some issues. The company never did, he said.
"Their position is that we didn't follow their strict guidelines," Roberson said. "Well, the reality is, if you talk to somebody and tell them you're having problems, and they're not fixing it, my question would be to them, who's now breached the contract?"
McCraney declined to comment on the suit when reached Wednesday.
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