National Fish accuses former employee of sharing trade secrets in recent lawsuit

Published on
July 25, 2018

Kathleen Scanlon – the former head of research, development, and quality assurance for National Fish & Seafood – was ordered not to work for her new employer, Tampa Bay Fisheries, and return National Fish property in a heated court battle.

Pacific Andes-owned National Fish, based in Gloucester, Massachusetts, filed a complaint against Scanlon, Tampa Bay, and a “John Doe” on 20 July, alleging that Scanlon “unlawfully acquired NFS’ confidential information and trade secrets” involving its proprietary clam production process. 

NFS, which markets the longstanding Matlaw’s stuffed clam and seafood line, said Scanlon’s action were “part of a scheme to harm NFS’ position in the seafood-supply industry,” according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Boston.

Dover, Florida-based Tampa Bay Fisheries specializes in private label seafood for retailers and restaurants. Both suppliers recently tried to secure a national listing with Whole Foods Market, according to the complaint.

After working for NFS for 20 years, Scanlon voluntarily resigned on 11 July. She was set to begin working for Tampa Bay Fisheries on 23 July. 

However, District Judge Leo T. Sorokin ordered Scanlon not to work for Tampa Bay until at least 31 July, and said that Tampa Bay and its employees cannot use or disclose “any confidential information of NFS except in communications with counsel in defense of this action.”

Judge Sorokin also ordered Scanlon to turn over her NFS-issued iPhone and password, which she did at a hearing on the case on 23 July. Scanlon’s attorneys said she has not disclosed any confidential NFS information to anyone, but counsel.

Representatives of both NFS and Tampa Bay Fisheries did not return SeafoodSource’s calls for comment.

NFS accused Scanlon of taking photos and videos of NFS’s clam production process, and forwarding NFS’ confidential and proprietary Ingredient List, QC documentations, and other NFS materials to her personal email account one day before she resigned.

The unnamed “John Doe,” an employee at Tampa Bay Fisheries, helped develop the plan to steal trade secrets, the complaint said.

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