Read the ISR Contract Very Carefully
Background on ISR Lawsuit
Why did ISR Sue Former Instructors?
What the Courts Have Said About ISR
ISR's Threats and Lies
What Happened to Former ISR Instructors

Books and Websites About Teaching Infants to Swim

Final Order

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Background on ISR’s Lawsuit against former instructors

In April 2000,  Harvey Barnett, Inc. and Infant Swimming Research, Inc. filed suit in federal District Court in Denver, Colorado, against two former ISR Master Instructors, Ann Shidler and Judy Heumann, and newly trained ISR instructor Alison Geerdes, claiming misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contact, unjust enrichment, unfair competition, deceptive trade practices, trademark infringement and misleading trade practices.

At the same time, Barnett also filed suit against a former ISR Master Instructor in Florida.

What Happened?

ISR has been unable to stop these former instructors from teaching children or training instructors in infant aquatic survival techniques.

Detailed History of the Colorado Case

ISR was denied a Preliminary Injunction

At the beginning of the law suit, ISR tried to get a court order which would prohibit these instructors from teaching children and training other instructors how to teach infant aquatic survival.  The Court denied ISR’s request saying:

"ISR argues that if instructors are trained improperly, children could die.  I am unpersuaded."

"ISR has provided no evidence that any instructor trained in Defendant’s curriculum would pose any greater risk to children than does the average new ISR instructor.  I therefore conclude that ISR has failed to meet its burden to show that a preliminary injunction is in the public’s best interest."

--Lewis T. Babcock, Chief Judge, Federal Court for District of Colorado

Click here for a full copy of the Court’s ruling.

ISR lost on Summary Judgment

After the hearing on ISR’s request for an injunction, the instructors requested that all the claims against them be dismissed.  The Court agreed, dismissed all the claims and awarded the instructors their attorney’s fees of approximately $145,000.

The Court said: Click here for a full copy of the Court’s ruling on Summary Judgment

ISR appealed and the Court of Appeals Affirmed the Dismissal of Most Claims

ISR had originally argued that these instructors were competing unfairly and were trying to steal ISR’s identity.  The Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court and found that there was no evidence to support these claims.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the Trademark Infringement claims, the Unfair Competition Claim, the Unjust Enrichment Claim, and the Deceptive Trade Practices Claim.  The instructors won on all of these claims.

Click here for a full copy of the Court of Appeals Ruling

Court of Appeals required a trial on trade secret and breach of contract claims

Because the Court of Appeals thought there was a dispute as to whether ISR really had trade secrets, the Court of Appeals ordered that the limited claims of misappropriation of trade secret and breach of contract be tried before a jury.

Click here for a full copy of the Court of Appeals Ruling

Jury found that there was no misappropriation of trade secret

Throughout the trial, ISR claimed that by teaching children and training instructors about infant aquatic survival skills, these instructors were necessarily stealing ISR’s trade secrets.  None of the instructors denied that they continued to teach children aquatic survival skills after leaving ISR.  However, the jury determined that teaching children and training instructors did NOT mean that these instructors were using ISR’s trade secrets.

Jury found in favor of Alison Geerdes on all claims and she was awarded $48,000 in attorney's fees

Not only did the jury find that Alison did not use ISR’s trade secrets after leaving ISR, the jury also decided that Alison Geerdes did not breach her contract with ISR in any way.  Even though she continued to teach children, she was completely exonerated of any wrong doing.  She was also awarded her attorney’s fees.

Jury found that there was a breach of contract

The jury found that Judy Heumann and Ann Shidler did breach their contract, not by teaching, but supposedly by disclosing ISR’s confidential information.  Heumann and Shidler believe that there was no evidence to support this finding and have appealed the jury verdict on this point.

ISR was denied a comprehensive injunction

Although the jury found that two of the instructors did disclose some confidential information, the Court refused to impose any significant injunction against them.  ISR wanted an injunction which would have prohibited these instructors from teaching swimming to children using techniques that are the same or similar to ISR’s techniques.  The Court denied ISR’s request. 

Quotes from the Court Order are telling

“The Court also agrees with the defendants that despite all the evidence offered at trial, it is difficult to articulate the contours of plaintiff's trade secret with any precision. Thus, . . . there is no basis on which to enjoin any defendant from violating plaintiff's unspecified trade secret(s), whatever those trade secret(s) may be.”

“[Even after the evidence] it remains unclear to this Court exactly what "confidential information" may have been used by the defendants in their business of teaching swimming to either instructors or students. It also remains murky to this Court exactly what part of the "methods, materials, techniques, trade secrets and/or systems used by ISR" are confidential, for as the defendants correctly point out, plaintiff argued that it was the system as a whole that was the trade secret. To the extent that plaintiff has not articulated with specificity the contours of plaintiff's "confidential information," or the confidential "methods, materials, techniques, trade secrets and/or systems used by ISR," which it seeks to be the subject of the proposed injunction, this Court agrees with defendants that any such injunction would be imprecise and could lead to further costly and probably meaningless litigation.”

Phillip Figa, District Court Judge, Federal Court for District of Colorado

Global Ruling on Post Trial Motions, May 5, 2004

Click here for a copy of the Court’s Global Order on Post Trial Motions

Claims are on appeal

 All parties are appealing.

See final order here.