Cargill sues JBS employee in trade secrets case

GREELEY – Cargill Inc. is suing a former employee in Colorado federal court, alleging that the employee stole proprietary information before being hired by Greeley-based competitor JBS USA (Bovespa: JBSS3).

Cargill, a privately held Delaware corporation that operates a meat packing plant in Fort Morgan, filed a lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Denver against Jason Kuan, a former employee from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Cargill alleges that Kuan downloaded hundreds of highly confidential company files before resigning from his job.

“We are going to take all the appropriate actions to protect Cargill proprietary information,” Cargill spokesman Mike Martin said.

JBS representatives did not respond to requests for comment. Bernie Siebert, a Denver attorney for Kuan, declined to comment. Contact information for Kuan was not publicly listed.

Case Collard, a Denver attorney for Cargill, also declined to comment.

Kuan, former vice president and general manager for Cargill Case Ready Canada, downloaded the Cargill computer files onto a hard drive July 7 before he resigned Aug. 1, according to the lawsuit. Cargill Case Ready provides pre-packaged beef and pork products to food retailers in the U.S. and Canada.

“There was no business need for him to transfer such information onto an external storage device, such as an external hard drive,” reads the lawsuit.

The files contained Cargill’s strategic plans, customers’ plans and financials as well as presentations on capital investments, plant layout, project spending, staffing plans and other information, according to the lawsuit. Kuan, who had signed a confidentially agreement with Cargill in 1999, did not return the hard drive to Cargill.

The information “is not publically available, and all of it was subject to efforts by Cargill to maintain its secrecy,” the lawsuit reads.

Kuan joined JBS USA, a subsidiary of Brazilian meatpacker JBS S.A., after resigning from Cargill. JBS announced Aug. 6 that it had hired Kuan to lead a new Case Ready Division.

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