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An Alabama state court jury ordered Thetford Corp. to pay $6 million to Environmental Products of America Inc. of Birmingham, Ala., for using confidential information to develop a competing line of RV cleanings products, according to the Miami (Fla.) Herald.
Thetford, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., obtained the confidential information between 1999 and 2001 when it was negotiating to buy Environmental Products, which markets the Mom’s Helper line of stain removers, SPF 2000 Super Protectant, Black Cat Tire Dressing, BUG-Off Bug Remover, a black streak remover, awning cleaner and rubber roof cleaner/protectant.
While in negotiations, the two companies had a confidentiality agreement, but Thetford never bought Environment Products. Then, last year, the Alabama company filed suit against Thetford, according to Dennis Goldasich, attorney for Environmental Products.
Thetford also sold its RV cleaning products to some of Environmental Products’ biggest customers, saying it was still moving towards the acquisition of Environmental Products, Goldasich also told The Herald.
“If a business wants to compete, that’s fine, but they have to do it by playing by the rules,” the lawyer told the newspaper. “Here, they felt they had to lie and deceive in order to gain an unfair advantage.”
Thetford’s attorney, Frederick Erben, declined comment, telling The Herald he consders the matter to be ongoing litigation.
The Jefferson County, Ala., jury ordered Thetford to pay $3 million in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages to Environmental Products, a small firm with only five employees.