NATURAL ORGANICS, INC. v. SMITH


38 A.D.3d 628 (2007)

832 N.Y.S.2d 76

NATURAL ORGANICS, INC., Appellant, v. WILBERT SMITH et al., Respondents.

Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Second Department.

Decided March 13, 2007.


Ordered that the order is reversed insofar as appealed from, on the law, with costs, and those branches of the defendants' motion pursuant to CPLR 3211 (a) (7) which were to dismiss the first and fourth causes of action and so much of the second, third, and fifth causes of action insofar as asserted against the defendant Nature's Way Products, Inc., are denied.

Upon a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a cause of action pursuant to CPLR 3211 (a) (7), the pleadings must be liberally construed (see CPLR 3026). "The question presented for review is not whether [the plaintiff] should ultimately prevail in this litigation, but rather, more narrowly, whether [its complaint] state[s] cognizable causes of action" (Becker v Schwartz, 46 N.Y.2d 401, 408 [1978]; cf. Sotomayor v Kaufman, Malchman, Kirby & Squire, 252 A.D.2d 554 [1998]). For the purposes of review, the court must assume the allegations in the complaint to be true, "accord plaintiff[] the benefit of every possible favorable inference, and determine only whether the facts as alleged fit within any cognizable legal theory" (Leon v Martinez, 84 N.Y.2d 83, 87-88 [1994]; see Rovello v Orofino Realty Co., 40 N.Y.2d 633, 634 [1976]).

The plaintiff sufficiently pleaded a cause of action alleging breach of contract. Contrary to the reasoning of the Supreme Court, the complaint adequately alleged that the defendant Wilbert Smith, inter alia, breached his contractual undertaking of nondisclosure of the plaintiff's trade secrets and other confidential data. Indeed, the Supreme Court appropriately recognized this in upholding the plaintiff's cause of action against Smith alleging a breach of fiduciary duty.

The branches of the motion which were to dismiss the causes of action alleging the aiding and abetting of a breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of trade secrets, interference with contractual relations, and unfair competition insofar as asserted against the defendant Nature's Way Products, Inc., should also have been denied. These causes of action also were adequately pleaded.


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