Mayo Clinic alleges a former top exec stole secrets

The Mayo Clinic is suing a former top executive who allegedly misappropriated trade secrets when he left the clinic for a leadership position with a competing company.

Mayo alleges Dr. Franklin Cockerill III was secretly hired by Quest Diagnostics Inc. but continued to work as the president and CEO of Mayo Medical Labs so he could steal trade secrets.

According to the complaint, he accepted the new position as the vice president and chief laboratory officer at Quest in June but continued to work at Mayo Medical Labs for several more months.

Mayo alleges Cockerill attended confidential meetings before telling the clinic he was leaving. The clinic also contends he took at least seven clinic-owned USB memory drives with him when he left. At least four of those drives were used to download information his computer in the days before he started working for Quest, according to the complaint.

In a statement Mayo says:

"Our leaders must maintain their fiduciary responsibility to our organization by protecting confidential information, trade secrets, and intellectual property. By failing to disclose his conflict-of-interest, Dr. Cockerill's actions were in violation of Mayo Clinic conflict-of-interest/compliance policies that all staff members agree to on an annual basis, and have put at risk the business strategy of Mayo Medical Laboratories ... We do not take this action lightly. Dr. Cockerill was a valued Mayo Clinic clinician, leader and colleague. We will vigorously defend and protect our intellectual property to ensure we can continue to meet our charitable mission."

Quest Diagnostics did not immediately reply to a request for comment.