Sims, Island Sea Farms want trade secrets suit dismissed

Published on
August 19, 2019

Both Dale Sims, former co-founder of CleanFish, and Canadian mussels producer Island Sea Farms are seeking to have the trade secrets lawsuit brought by CleanFish against them dismissed. 

In Sims’ request for dismissal, he said that CleanFish failed “to establish the existence of a trade secret.” And, while CleanFish LLC says Sims had a duty to remain loyal to the company – since he was promised a 5 percent stake of its earnings – Sims said he has not received any interest from the alleged 5 percent ownership.

In a new document filed with the court, CleanFish denies several allegations made by Sims and his new seafood wholesale business, Buena Vista Seafood, in a counterclaim. In its rebuttal, the company also says that Sims’ right to receive distributions from CleanFish is conditioned on CleanFish’s return of capital contributions to its members. 

“CleanFish denies that Sims was not granted a 5 percent ownership interest in CleanFish or that Michael Geraty [CleanFish’s director] implied that Sims does not have any ownership interest in CleanFish,” the company stated in its recent filing.

CleanFish also denied several allegations that Sims’ made in his counterclaim,  including that several former suppliers to CleanFish reported late payments. 

Sims said that Dyer Aqua LLC terminated its relationship with CleanFish due to late payments. However, CleanFish said it terminated its relationship with Dyer Aqua, LLC, “due to inappropriate and aggressive behavior of a Dyer Aqua, LLC employee toward a female employee of CleanFish. CleanFish denies that personnel who make the financial decisions at were ever contacted by any suppliers with any concerns relative to payment,” CleanFish said.

In addition to Island Sea Farms, Sims contacted “numerous” other CleanFish customers in order to “divert sales away from CleanFish and to Buena Vista and/or ISF,” CleanFish alleged.

CleanFish also denies that Anna MacFarlane, the former co-managing director of CleanFish, was terminated from CleanFish. Instead, she resigned in 2018.

Meanwhile, Sims said that CleanFish “fails to show that any damages resulted from the alleged breach,” the request for dismissal said. If Island Sea Farms stopped supplying mussels prior to any action by Sims, as CleanFish alleges, “then damages from loss of sales of ISF mussels cannot be the result of a breach of duty of loyalty on Sims part,” Sims argues.

Similarly, Island Sea Farms alleges that there are “serious legal defects in plaintiff’s trade secret claims against the ISF defendants,” it said in its dismissal request. 

"Even in its Amended Complaint, plaintiff has failed to identify its trade secrets with the specificity necessary to meet Rule 8’s pleading standard. Plaintiff defines its trade secret and proprietary information so vaguely and so broadly that the Court and defendants cannot identify the boundaries of this case,” Island Sea Farms said.

Nancy Dixon, an Island Sea Farms employee listed in the complaint, said that her text requesting that Sims send her “[his] customer list” was not a request for CleanFish’s customer list. Instead, she was trying to determine "whose information she should insert on the packing slips for the product ordered and purchased by the Buena Vista defendants,” Island Sea Farms said. 

“This is not an uncommon or suspicious question coming from a company engaged in the nonexclusive sale of product to multiple customers,” the company added.

Image courtesy of CleanFish

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