05/27/2014

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US court awards USD 7.4 million verdict to Cellchem against Yoke subsidiary Shekoy Chemicals US, Inc. and former agents

The 12-member jury found in favour of Cellchem, a 50/50 joint venture between Cellular Technology International, Inc. of Kennesaw, GA, USA, and ChemFoam International, Inc. of Duluth, GA, USA, on four counts: breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference, computer trespass, and computer theft. The award of punitive damages required that the jury find by "clear and convincing evidence” a specific intent to harm Cellchem by Shekoy, Tritec and the Lymans. The jury also included an award of attorney's fees, having found that the defendants acted in bad faith. According to Chellchem in January 2010, the company sued its former Sales Agent, Mr. Lyman, and Operations Manager, Mrs. Lyman, after discovering that Mrs. Lyman had deleted a substantial amount of vital data from her company issued computer. Shortly thereafter, Cellchem learned that Mr. Lyman had been actively transferring confidential company information to the Chinese owners of Yoke. Additionally, it was discovered that Mr. Lyman was directly competing against his own principal, Cellchem, as he established and ran Shekoy for Yoke's benefit through most of 2009. After unearthing this connection, Shekoy was also added to the lawsuit. In a statement, Dennis Spicher, Vice President of Cellchem said, "We have waited four and a half years to receive justice. We believe this is a victory for all small businesses who are unfairly targeted by a foreign competitor.” Steven Gabelman, Vice President of Cellchem added, "Yoke [parent of Shekoy US] enticed our Sales Agent and Operations Manager [Mr. and Mrs. Lyman] to conspire with them more than 18 months before entering the market. We welcome fair competition. In our case, the jury saw in the evidence that the defendants conspired to destroy our company before they entered the market. By doing this, they could enter without competition. They tried to rig the game.” Jonathan Crumly, Cellchem's attorney, of Maner Crumly Chambliss, LLP commented, "During this five day trial, the jury took the time to understand the issues in this complex case. After sifting through days of testimony and a mountain of documents, the jury saw how Yoke, through its American subsidiary Shekoy, and the Lymans went to great trouble to execute a plan designed to destroy my client. The jury also saw that the plan didn't stop with that but they went to extraordinary lengths to lie, deceive and hide their tracks to get away with it. We could not have shown the jury the extent of this effort to hide their tracks without our computer forensic expert, Jim Persinger of PM Investigations, Inc. While the verdict is large, it does not enrich my client at all. It simply puts them in the same position they were in before the harm was done. A position to compete fairly in this market.”

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