Thursday, February 18, 2010, 2/18/2010 03:30:00 PM

Departing Employee from Bimbo Bakeries Told by Court to Cool His Jets

By Todd



Law.com is reporting that in his 37-page opinion in Bimbo Bakeries USA Inc. v. Botticella, United States District Judge R. Barclay Surrick granted a preliminary injunction, ruling that Chris Botticella, a former senior vice president at Bimbo, cannot start to work for Hostess Inc. because his extensive knowledge of Bimbo's trade secrets makes it substantially likely, if not inevitable, that he would disclose Bimbo's secrets to Hostess.

According to court papers, Thomas' English Muffins generate about $500 million in annual sales for Bimbo, and there are three secrets for making their "nooks and crannies" texture -- the recipe, the engineering and the process. Most Bimbo employees know only one of the secrets, and Botticella was one of just seven people with knowledge of all three.

And as a senior vice president earning $250,000 plus bonuses, Botticella was in an elite group that had access to Bimbo's competitive planning, including product launch plans and strategies for cutting costs and securing lucrative contracts for store-brand products, Surrick found.
Surrick found that Botticella had continued to work for Bimbo for several months after accepting the Hostess post in October 2009, never telling his bosses of his imminent plans to quit as he continued to attend high-level strategy meetings.

Botticella also surreptitiously accessed highly sensitive documents on his final day of work at Bimbo, Surrick found, and a computer expert showed that an external drive had been connected to Botticella's laptop.

Botticella's attempts to explain his conduct were "simply not credible," Surrick found.
"Defendant's conduct before leaving Bimbo, in not disclosing to Bimbo his acceptance of a job offer from a direct competitor, remaining in a position to receive Bimbo's confidential and trade secret information and, in fact, receiving such information after committing to the Hostess job, and copying Bimbo's trade secret information from his work laptop onto external storage devices, demonstrates an intention to use Bimbo trade secrets during his intended employment with Hostess," Surrick wrote.

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