Processing Magazine

Secretary''s mishap results in $1.26 billion judgement against PepsiCo

October 29, 2009
According to the Associated Press, two men who claim PepsiCo stole their idea to sell bottled water sued the company in Wisconsin and won a $1.26 billion judgment after the company didn''t respond in court. PepsiCo claims it didn''t know about the lawsuit until almost a week after the court granted the award without a trial. The company wants the court to toss out the ruling, known as a default judgment, or at least give PepsiCo a chance to fight the accusations. PepsiCo claims part of the problem was it was served the lawsuit in North Carolina, where it is incorporated, instead of Purchase, N.Y., where it is based. A secretary who received the letters relating to the case failed to act on them. Charles Joyce, of Juneau, Wis., and James Voigt, of Cleveland, Wis., sued PepsiCo in April, asking for a jury trial and damages of more than $75,000. Their lawsuit accuses PepsiCo of misusing trade secrets. It also names Wis-Pak Inc. and Carolina Canners Inc., companies that make and distribute PepsiCo products, and Thomas M. Hiles, then the executive vice president of Carolina Canners. The pair claim they entered written confidentiality agreements about a new beverage they were calling "U.P." with executives of Wis-Pak and Carolina Canners in 1981. The executives violated the agreements and gave the information to PepsiCo, which eventually rolled out the bottled water brand, Aquafina. PepsiCo says it never knew anything about the case.