APPRENTICE INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INC., AND DAVID RANDALL LAMP A/K/A RANDY LAMP APPELLANTS
DATASCOUT, LLC APPELLEE
FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 04CV-13-1075-5]
HONORABLE XOLLIE DUNCAN, JUDGE
Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP, by: William A. Waddell,
Jr., Robert S. Shafer, and Joshua C. Ashley, for appellants;
Owsley, for appellants.
Clay Fulcher; The Lingle Law Firm, by: James G. Lingle; and
Brian G. Brooks, Attorney at Law, PLLC, by: Brian G. Brooks,
F. WYNNE, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE.
Information Systems, Inc., and David Randall Lamp
(collectively, "AIS") appeal from a final judgment
awarding damages to appellee DataScout, LLC. This appeal is a
companion to two other appeals decided today, Apprentice
Information Systems, Inc. v. DataScout, LLC, 2018 Ark.
284 (Case No. CV-16-575) (interlocutory appeal of injunction)
and Apprentice Information Systems, Inc. v. DataScout,
LLC, 2018 Ark. 280 (Case No. CV-17-514) (appeal of
attorney-fee award). For the reasons that follow, we reverse.
trial in this case was bifurcated, and the facts leading to
the finding of liability and the award of injunctive relief
are recited in Case No. CV-16-575. Following the trial on
liability, the circuit court entered its findings of fact and
conclusions of law on May 23, 2016. The court found that AIS
had violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Ark. Code
Ann. §§ 25-19-101, et seq., and the Arkansas
Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA), Ark. Code Ann.
§§ 4-88-101 et seq., and had tortiously
interfered with DataScout's business expectancy.
trial was held on the issue of damages on October 31, 2016.
The circuit court entered its amended findings of fact and
conclusions of law on January 26, 2017, and its judgment
on January 27, 2017. The court awarded DataScout $632, 526 in
compensatory damages for AIS's violation of the ADTPA and
its intentional interference with a valid contractual
relationship or business expectancy. The court awarded
punitive damages in the amount of $1, 265, 052. AIS presents
the following points on appeal: the circuit court clearly
erred in (1) finding that AIS violated the ADTPA; (2) finding
that AIS engaged in tortious interference with a valid
business expectancy; (3) awarding punitive damages; (4)
finding that AIS is an undeclared de facto custodian
of records for the counties it serves; and (5) concluding
that county officials are not indispensable parties to this
case. AIS challenges the circuit court's findings on
liability, and for the reasons set out in Case No. CV-16-575,
we reverse the findings that AIS engaged in tortious
interference with a valid business expectancy and that it
remaining claim, violation of the ADTPA, is also reversed for
the reasons that follow. The circuit court concluded that AIS
had violated the ADTPA "by engaging in unconscionable,
false or deceptive acts, in conducting its business with
county collectors and assessors across the State of
Arkansas." The court went on to find as follows:
AIS and Lamp have violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade
Practices Act and tortuously [sic] interfered with
DataScout's business expectancy in the following ways:
(a) AIS knew that DataScout was a competitor in providing
bulk data to companies and individuals;
(b) AIS knew that DataScout was a competitor in creating
websites for Arkansas county officials that provided free
public access to public data;
(c)AIS knew that DataScout's business model and business
goal was to have a one-stop shop of public data available for
paid subscribers and that to provide its services, DataScout
required public data at a reasonable fee and ...