Marino CLE lawsuit accuses ex-employee of CFAA violations, trade secret theft


A continuing legal education company headed by Joseph Marino (inset, left), the legendary force behind a 65-year-old family-owned New York and New Jersey bar exam course, sued a former employee for alleged theft of “invaluable data” from his more recent CLE company’s business.

The Marino Institute of Continuing Legal Education, Inc. (‘Marino’ CLE’) accuses ex-employee Omar Issa (inset, right) of lifting Marino CLE trade secrets, breaching a fiduciary duty to his employer “by taking technology and…leaking confidential information and proprietary information” to his competing business while still working for Marino CLE

The federal lawsuit also alleges violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, copyright and trademark infringement, unfair competition, and more. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The complaint maintains that, while still working for Marino CLE, Issa urged his employer to hire defendants Matt Partain, MP Innovations, Inc., and IPLS Global “to streamline the operation of Marino’s existing website,” but that this ultimately resulted in the three new defendant’s “aiding and abetting” Issa in breaching his fiduciary duties to Marino CLE.

After discovering defendant “Issa’s deceit” in allegedly taking trade secrets and proprietary information, the lawsuit alleges, Marino CLE struggled to regain control of the website back from defendants Partain and MPI. When plaintiff finally did so, the suit contends, “the site was so corrupt” that 1) he had to spend tens of thousands on “a new firewall protocol,” and that 2) Marino must spend some $50,000 “on an entirely new website because the damage…to the existing [one] is unfixable.”

The lawsuit seeks an injunction against all defendants concerning any confidential, proprietary or trade secret information allegedly obtained by defendants from Marino, an accounting and return of the defendants’ “profits, revenues, and gains” stemming from their use of Marino materials, damages for trademark and copyright infringement, compensatory and punitive damages.

Marino gained considerable attention and notoriety by helping John F. Kennedy, Jr. pass the New York bar exam on his third attempt, after failing it twice.

Photo credit: Felix

You can track the case docket here, and read Marino’s lawsuit against Issa and the other defendants below:

Complaint (Marino Institute of Continuing Legal Education, Inc. v. Issa et al.)