DENVER – Cargill lost its bid to block a former manager from working for JBS USA in Greeley, Colo.
In a statement, the company said: "The recent order by the Court is directed only at the Preliminary Injunction. The Court agreed that the information involved in this matter qualifies as trade secrets. A temporary restraining order is still in effect to prevent Mr. Kuan from disclosing or using Cargill’s confidential information and trade secrets and Cargill will continue to advocate for protection of its confidential information and trade secrets."
The company had asked a federal judge to issue a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to keep Jason Kuan, a former manager of its case-ready Canada business, from working for JBS for one year, according to court documents. Cargill doesn't dispute that Kuan returned the documents, and therefore has no source from which to obtain Cargill's trade secrets.
“However, no evidence was presented of what Mr. Kuan may or could recall that he may or could use to Cargill’s competitive disadvantage,” US Judge Raymond Moore said in his ruling. “On the record as a whole, the evidence supports a finding that while Mr. Kuan did once have specific knowledge of Cargill’s trade secrets, his knowledge now is generalized. Generalized knowledge that Cargill’s strategies focused on areas of Customer, Value Added, OPEX, and CMS Alignment, or generalized knowledge of the information contained in those focus areas, however, are insufficient to support a finding of “threatened misappropriation.”
Cargill is suing Kuan for breach of contract on allegations he took proprietary information about Cargill before resigning to take a position at JBS USA. Kuan acknowledged he downloaded the documents because of computer problems. Judge Moore wrote in part “…the Court finds Mr. Kuan’s testimony that he downloaded thousands of documents on July 7 due to laptop problems not credible…”