Fox Successful in Shutting Down $4.7M Trade Secrets Case for Family-Owned Customs Brokerage Company

August 18, 2014 – Press Releases

A federal court has rejected trade secret, unfair competition, breach of duty of loyalty and conspiracy claims asserted against a Philadelphia-based family-owned customs brokerage company, 721 Logistics, LLC. The court rejected claims asserted by Ozburn-Hessey Logistics, LLC (OHL), the world’s largest third-party logistics company, which had sued 721 which opened in 2012.

721 Logistics entered into a joint venture with West Coast-based J&K Fresh, LLC, a company known for superior customer service focusing on the import of perishables. When nine former OHL employees resigned from OHL, OHL unsuccessfully pursued claims against the J&K and 721, their owners and the former OHL employees. OHL, a company with more than 7,000 employees, claimed that it was crippled by the loss of these employees. OHL had sought economic damages of $4.7 million plus its counsel fees.

U.S. District Court Judge L. Felipe Restrepo found in favor of 721 and J&K: “I find that [721] offered employment to nine OHL employees for the specific purpose of hiring skilled and gifted employees, and with no intention of crippling OHL’s perishables division or of inducing the employees to commit wrongs against OHL…The trial record demonstrates unequivocally that the individuals…recruited were gifted and skilled,” the Court said.

To read the full opinion, please click here.

“This is a David v. Goliath case and David won,” said lead counsel Steven K. Ludwig, who led Fox Rothschild’s trial team. “A family business – committed to superior service to its customers and with the highest ethical standards – prevailed over a global behemoth with seemingly unlimited resources,” said Ludwig. “With this cloud lifted, J&K Fresh - East and West - and its loyal employees will continue to provide the best customs brokerage services.”

Fox represented 11 of the 14 defendants in the case, demonstrating that the purportedly purloined client contact information was not a protected trade secret and was exclusively developed by Lawrence Antonucci, Jr., J&K Fresh East’s founder and president. Barbara K. Gotthelf led the team from McCarter & English, LLP which represented the J&K Fresh (West Coast) defendants. Brian A. Casal from Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, PC led OHL’s trial team.

Ludwig represents private and public clients in the full range of labor and employment matters, including labor litigation, civil rights litigation, collective bargaining, human resource counseling and training, appellate representation, regulatory compliance and alternative dispute resolution.