LidoChem, Inc., through its Performance Nutrition division (PNFertilizers.com), supplies patented fertilizers, chelated micronutrients, soil amendments and related products to growers nationwide. LidoChem, Inc. was established in 1981 and is based in Hazlet, NJ.
On March 26, 2014, a unanimous jury awarded plaintiff, LidoChem a $12 Million dollar verdict ($10.8 Million in lost profits and $1.2 Million disgorgement claim) as a result of a long awaited trial in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Southern Division (Case Number: 1:09-CV-204). The jury found that the Lanham Act violation was willful, thereby allowing plaintiff to recover actual attorney fees, costs, interest and treble damages through post-trial motions.
A decade before, LidoChem was accused by one of its largest customers of putting "poison" in their plant nutrition product. The principle witness for this proposition was the owner of LidoChem’s primary competitor. Howard Law Group was first brought in to defend these untrue allegations. Its vigorous defense resulted in the dismissal of plaintiff’s expert under Daubert, including the owner of the competitor. The customer agreed to dismiss the lawsuit and join LidoChem in a claim of fraud against this competitor.
Check out more details in the article, 20-hour Jury Trial Nets $12M Award published by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.
UPDATE: January 2016
Judge TRIPLED the Jury’s Award for Plaintiff due to Defendants’ "Intentional, Egregious" Behavior
Howard Law Group prevailed once again in a Michigan court for its client LidoChem Inc., a supplier of new products and technologies for the agriculture and turf markets. Yesterday, the Honorable Robert J. Jonker awarded $44.5 million to the company – more than 3x the original amount awarded by a jury – which includes attorneys’ fees, interest and other costs. The long awaited decision comes nearly 2 years after a jury found Stoller Enterprises, Inc., Jerry Stoller and David Alexander willfully violated the Lanham Act due to defendants’ anti-competitive business activities.
"We had substantial evidence that Stoller and its executives were intentionally spreading falsehoods about LidoChem and its Performance Nutrition products over a 10 year period that ultimately interfered with LidoChem’s business relationships resulting in a substantial impact on the company and its brand," says William D. Howard, lead attorney for LidoChem.
The original verdict came down on March 26, 2014 after a 20-hour trial in the United States District Court Western District of Michigan Southern Division (Case Number: 1:09-CV-204) when a unanimous jury awarded LidoChem, Inc. a $12 million judgment. However, the judge decided to treble the award to $36 million due to the egregious actions of Stoller as well as the jury’s determination that the actions were intentional, in addition to awarding Plaintiff pre-judgment interest in the amount of $7 million and attorney fees and costs in the amount of $1.5 million. The Court found that the willful element was an important one as Defendants set out on a mission to knock out a competitor with false information, even to the point of concocting a false lab report.
"We are pleased once again that our reputation has been cleared by this case and we can continue to develop quality products that protect the environment and help farmers to increase yields to feed the world," says Don J. Pucillo, president of LidoChem, Inc.
Lidochem’s legal team is convinced this decision will impact future Lanham Act cases that involve products especially developed for the agriculture industry."Lidochem should be viewed as a cautionary tale for businesses. A business bad mouthing its competition isn’t new. But, LidoChem creates a new level of awareness of what conduct crosses the line and the resulting consequences. When that line is crossed, businesses proceed at their own risk," says Jean Treece, co-lead counsel at the Howard Law Group.
"This decision was the proverbial nail in the coffin in convincing at least one other circuit to finally recognize that word of mouth, person to person, communications constituted commercial advertising and promotion."