WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) — A New Hanover County jury has ruled that a trio of former employees owe the owner of Eternal Sunshine Café thousands of dollars after they copied a database of recipes and then have deleted.
A press release from the restaurant’s attorneys – Reiss & Nutt, PLLC – says the jury found Samantha Passwaters Frye, Paul Chris Frye and Edgar Santos-Cardenas jointly liable for computer intrusion, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract and civil conspiracy.
The jury awarded the restaurant $65,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.
Eternal Sunshine Cafe, a popular breakfast and brunch restaurant, first opened on Eastwood Road in 2014 and later expanded to Leland in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic forced Michael Pellegrino , owner and chief executive, to close the Leland site in May 2020 and furlough employees until it can reopen.
The jury determined that on the day Leland’s site was shut down, the trio “conspired to take the bulk of the restaurant’s database containing proprietary recipes and related information and to delete password-protected data.” of Eternal Sunshine for about 70 dishes”.
“Especially with the restaurant already on the heels of COVID, the misconduct of these employees has been a blow to the cafe,” said W. Cory Reiss of law firm Reiss & Nutt. “It has also delayed Mike’s expansion plans, as these recipes and associated methods have been the foundation for his growth in this region and beyond. Mike has been busy recreating what these defendants deleted. But the verdict sends a clear message that such egregious conduct will not be tolerated.
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