Park Lawn Says Ex-CEO Clark Stole Their Cemetery Software Secrets

Funeral Industry News November 4, 2020
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Park Lawn Says Ex-CEO Clark Stole Their Cemetery Software Secrets

Bloomberg Law reports that Park Lawn Corporation, the largest publicly-traded Canadian-owned funeral, cremation, and cemetery provider, has filed a lawsuit against PlotBox, a UK-based cemetery software startup, alleging PlotBox used Park Lawn’s ex-CEO Andrew Clark to steal trade secrets. Clark, whose appointment as chairman of the board of directors of PlotBox was announced on June 18, 2020, served as CEO of Park Lawn from July 2013 to March 2020. 

The allegations

The suit, which was filed in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware on June 25, 2020, argues that PlotBox “induced” Clark to violate non-compete and nondisclosure agreements he had signed with Park Lawn prior to his resignation. 

According to Bloomberg Law, the complaint states that Clark’s non-compete agreement with Park Lawn “bars him from working for PlotBox in any capacity through August 31, 2021. It also says Park Lawn didn’t learn until June 2020 that Clark “had been serving as an agent of PlotBox for eight months.”

Park Lawn also alleges that PlotBox caused Clark to share confidential information about funeral home and cemetery management software in development at Park Lawn.

Plotting the FaCTS

On July 21, 2020, Park Lawn Capital Limited, Inc. filed an application for trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the stylized word “FaCTS,” which is described in the application as “providing online, non-downloadable general business management software for performing funeral home and cemetery industry functions.”

Bloomberg Law reports that Park Lawn “invested more than $1 million” to develop FaCTS, which it “planned to use internally and sell to others in the industry, according to the complaint.” In a second quarter 2020 investor presentation found on Park Lawn’s website, the company included the “introduction of a new funeral and cemetery technology solution” in a list of “near-term strategic priorities.”

According to Bloomberg, FaCTS software “includes proprietary features concerning records management, deed management, property management, contract management, accounting reconciliation and customer interface,” per Park Lawn, and PlotBox is “developing and marketing an industry-specific software technology tool that competes against FaCTS.”

The specific “proprietary features” to which the lawsuit refers were not available. 

Response to the suit, a non-profit site that archives court data, shows that a summons was issued to PlotBox on June 29, 2020. Park Lawn subsequently filed numerous motions for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against PlotBox, each of which PlotBox opposed.

“The suit against PlotBox is baseless, and PlotBox intends to continue to vigorously defend against PLC’s allegations,” Leona McAllister, PlotBox chief commercial officer, told Bloomberg Law. “Consistent with his fiduciary duties, Mr. Clark has never disclosed to PlotBox any confidential information or trade secrets of PLC.”

Park Lawn, says Bloomberg, is asking for “cash compensation of ‘actual, consequential and punitive damage.’”

As of June 30, 2020, Park Lawn Corporation owned 108 funeral homes and 114 cemeteries across Canada and the United States, employed more than 1,900 people, and reported $294.2M in revenue, with acquisitions leading its growth strategy.