The following is an excerpt from an October 27th, 2019 press release from counsel working with RyKrisp. We have edited it (the parts in parentheses) because the name of the contract manufacturer is unimportant to the discussion. It gives a good summary of what has transpired. None of us at RyKrisp yet know what the future brings, but this is a good start, and we want to thank all RyKrisp cracker fans for their support to date.
Thompson Coburn secures $8.3 million victory for RyKrispTM cracker owner
On October 22, Thompson Coburn attorneys succeeded in securing an $8.3 million verdict from a Cook County jury in favor of Firm client RyKrisp, LLC in a dispute between the rye cracker producer and (its contract manufacturer). RyKrisp LLC owns the iconic RyKrispTM cracker that has been on grocery shelves for over 125 years. The judgment ensures that RyKrisp will recover damages and lost profits following (the) conversion of RyKrisp’s equipment and tortious efforts to interfere with RyKrisp’s business.
The matter originated with an unsuccessful business arrangement between the parties. After purchasing the intellectual property and brand of the 125-year old cracker from ConAgra in May 2015, RyKrisp soon began exploring a long-term manufacturing agreement with (its contract manufacturer). Once this business relationship proved unsuccessful due to a number of issues, RyKrisp found a replacement manufacturer and entered an agreement.
On July 12, 2016, (the contract manufacturer) took the equipment from RyKrisp’s storage facility and demanded payment of $100,000 or the equipment would be sold. Following the conversion, RyKrisp filed a complaint seeking a replevin order. (The contract manufacturer) finally returned the equipment in June 2017, but after returning the equipment, (their) CEO contacted RyKrisp’s new manufacturer and coerced them into ceasing production for RyKrisp–resulting in (substantial) lost profits.
During the week-long trial, (the contract manufacturer) attempted to argue that it had a right to take possession of the equipment and denied their communications with RyKrisp’s new manufacturer amounted to tortious interference. Thompson Coburn trial attorneys, successfully sank the claims by demonstrating (the defendant) wrongfully detained the equipment. Then, the team illustrated (their) deliberate attempt to coerce RyKrisp’s new manufacturer into abandoning their contract with RyKrisp, resulting in (substantial) lost profits.
After 8 hours of deliberation, the jury entered judgment in favor of RyKrisp, granting both claims for damages and denied all but one of (the defendant’s) claims.
“This is an incredibly satisfying day. By awarding this huge punitive damage award of $6 million, the jury sent a clear message that the conduct deliberately taken by (the) defendant, in seizing and holding equipment that RyKrisp owned and interfering with RyKrisp’s contract with another baking facility will not be tolerated” said Todd Rowden, RyKrisp’s lead trial attorney and Thompson Coburn partner. “They sent an unmistakable powerful message.”