DAILY JOURNAL VERDICTS & SETTLEMENTS
July 6, 2007
Breach of Contract
CASE/NUMBER: Tropicale Foods Inc. v. Alejandro Cisneros dba A.C. Distributing, et al. / RCVRS 101839.
COURT/DATE: San Bernardino Superior / May 16, 2007.
JUDGE: Hon. Barry L. Plotkin
ATTORNEYS: Plaintiff - Mark B. Wilson (Klein & Wilson, Newport Beach).
Defendant - Robert P. Fores (Fores Macko P.C., Modesto).
FACTS: The plaintiff, an ice cream manufacturer, entered into an agreement with the defendant for him to act as an independent sales representative and sell the plaintiff's products to its customer base in Northern California. The plaintiff contends it provided the defendant the plaintiff's customer list with the understanding it would be kept confidential, which defendant disputed. The plaintiff delivered products to the defendant, but the defendant did not pay for them. Defendant contends that after two years, plaintiff required defendant to become an employee or quit his relationship with plaintiff. Defendant chose to quit. Then, defendant started working for plaintiff's competitor and soliciting business from customers on plaintiff's customer list.
PLAINTIFF'S CONTENTIONS: The plaintiff contended that the defendant breached the parties' agreement, misappropriated the plaintiff's trade secret (i.e., the customer list) and unfairly competed against the plaintiff.
DEFENDANT'S CONTENTIONS: Defendant disputed that there was any misappropriation of trade secrets. The defendant claimed he was entitled to certain offsets, which discounted the amount claimed, and that the plaintiff's customer list was not a trade secret. Defendant claims plaintiff initially claimed $800,000 in damages.
DAMAGES: The plaintiff claimed damages of $106,581 for unpaid products and unspecified damages for unfair competition.
RESULT: The plaintiff noticed the defendant's deposition. Just before the deposition began, and also before the hearing on defendant's motion for change of venue from San Bernardino to Stanislaus County, the case settled for $126,581. In addition, the defendant provided the plaintiff a letter it can send to customers indicating that the parties are no longer associated with each other and that the customers may deal directly with the plaintiff.