Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) October 4, 2017 - A Texas jury awarded almost $14 million to a distributor in a breach of contract claim, but also charged the distributor about $3.4 million for unjust enrichment.
Distributor Bunnett & Co. accused Natural Soda LLC, a manufacturer of baking soda, and Enirgi Group Corp., its parent company, of breaching a regional distribution contract. Bunnett claimed that Natural Soda violated the agreement, under which Bunnett sold the product to supplement the diet of dairy cows and Natural Soda agreed not to make direct sales to customers in a 15-state territory. Bunnett claimed Natural Soda breached the contract and then tried to poach customers, but Natural Soda said it ended the agreement in December 2015 after Bunnett breached it. When Bunnett filed suit against Natural Soda in December 2015, a temporary restraining order was granted enforcing the exclusivity clause of the contract.
“Whether an exclusivity clause is enforceable can be a complicated question that depends on facts in addition to the language of the contract,” notes Gregory D. Jordan, an Austin Texas business litigation attorney with The Law Offices of Gregory D. Jordan. “If you are considering entering into or seeking to enforce a contract with an exclusivity clause, find an attorney familiar with how they operate,” suggests Jordan.
After an eight-day trial, the Travis County jury sided for the most part with Bunnett, deciding that Natural Soda was in breach of the agreement, engaged in tortious interference with Bunnett’s customer relationships, and acted maliciously. The jury awarded $5 million in damages for lost profits, $927,000 in damages for tortious interference and $3 million in punitive damages.
The jury also found that after the contract was terminated, Natural Soda performed work for Bunnett that it was not paid for, so is determined that Bunnett was unjustly enriched by $3.36 million.
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