Atlas Biologicals v. Biowest, et al., No. 20-1401 (10th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff-Appellee Atlas Biologicals, Inc. (“Atlas”) sued its former employee Thomas Kutrubes for various federal intellectual-property claims. Kutrubes, seemingly as an attempt to thwart Atlas’s ability to collect a likely judgment against him, transferred his 7% ownership interest in Atlas to Atlas’s rival Defendant- Appellant Biowest, LLC (“Biowest”). Once Atlas found out about this alleged transfer, it sought a writ of attachment in the district court against Kutrubes’s interest in Atlas, which the district court granted. But in granting the writ, the district court explained that it did not know what interest Kutrubes still had in Atlas and raised the idea of Atlas filing a separate declaratory judgment action. Atlas did so, and that was the lawsuit before the Tenth Circuit in this appeal: whether the district court properly found in favor of Atlas in this action in light of the fact that it did not have an independent source of federal jurisdiction to decide the question of state law that the action presented—a question that implicated a third party not involved in the initial suit, Biowest. Reviewing these matters de novo, the Tenth Circuit conclude the district court acted properly and within the scope of its jurisdiction, and agreed with the district court’s resolution of the merits. Accordingly, judgment was affirmed.