High Liner, Haven Foods end lawsuit over Kroger contract

Published on
May 28, 2020

High Liner and Haven Foods agreed to dismiss High Liner’s lawsuit against Haven and its executives over Haven allegedly poaching Kroger’s frozen shrimp business.

In documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the two parties agreed that the complaint should be dismissed “with prejudice, without costs or attorneys’ fees to any party, with each party waiving any right to appeal.”

Last fall, High Liner and Haven were working towards a settlement of the suit. At the time, the two parties said they would agree on a neutral mediator and participate in a private mediation proceeding prior to 31 January, 2020. 

However, at the time, both parties also leveled accusations at the other. Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, Canada-based High Liner said the damages caused by Haven will exceed USD 10 million (EUR 9 million).

In the lawsuit, High Liner said that former Rubicon executives Justin Kirby, Nicholas Leonard, Lucas Biging, and Ernest Dominguez, who worked in High Liner’s frozen shrimp division, utilized proprietary information to snatch Kroger’s “Simple Truth” shrimp business from High Liner.

Kirby and Leonard incorporated Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.-based Haven Foods in early February, and the company operates out of a cold storage facility previously used by Rubicon to house millions of dollars of inventory for Rubicon’s customers, the complaint said.

However, Haven Foods denied the allegations and said that High Liner – unhappy with the outcome of Kroger’s “open and competitive bid process and trying to justify High Liner’s USD 107 million [EUR 97 million]  acquisition of Rubicon that resulted in multiple executive firings (including multiple CEOs of High Liner), layoffs, and the loss of other non-exclusive Rubicon customers prior to Leonard and Kirby’s departure – seek to exert anti-competitive leverage against Haven Foods,” Haven said in the joint report. 

In its suit, High Liner alleged its former employees used confidential information and trade secrets to steal business from the company. But the four Haven employees said High Liner encouraged them to leave the company, knowing they had knowledge of the intimate details of Rubicon’s previous contracts, including the contract with Kroger.

“Haven Foods contends that this lawsuit seeks to stifle lawful completion by plaintiffs’ former employees, while the separate arbitration proceeding attempts to enforce an illegal non-compete provision in Leonard’s and Kirby’s employment agreements with plaintiffs. Moreover, Haven Foods contends that plaintiffs and/or plaintiffs’ principals encouraged Leonard and Kirby to terminate their employment with plaintiffs, were aware of the departures, and authorized and/or assisted Leonard and Kirby in fairly competing against plaintiffs after their departure,” the supplier added.

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