A secretary at PepsiCo Inc. failed to show up at a recent court hearing, a move that has cost the beverage company a $1.26 billion default judgment. The judgment stems from a case that states PepsiCo stole the idea to bottle and sell purified water from two Wiscosin Men.
PepsiCo had filed a motion to vacate the order and to dismiss the claim on October 13th, stating that they had only been aware of the lawsuit since October 6th.
The two men, Charles Joyce and James Voigt began the lawsuit with April litigation after alleging that the company has misappropriated trade secrets they had gained from discussions with an outside vendor which were then passed on to PepsiCo in 1981. Those discussions involved the possibility of selling purified water, PepsiCo now operates one of the largest purified water distribution companies in the world with their Aquafina line.
PepsiCo has argued that they were improperly served with the lawsuit and have asked the court to excuse the corporate bureaucracy that had caused the document to be buried for weeks.
According to Yahoo Finance:
In court papers, PepsiCo claims it first received a legal document related to the case from the North Carolina agent on Sept. 15 when a copy of a co-defendant’s letter was forwarded to Deputy General Counsel Tom Tamoney in PepsiCo’s law department. Tamoney’s secretary, Kathy Henry, put the letter aside and didn’t tell anyone about it because she was “so busy preparing for a board meeting,” PepsiCo said in its Oct. 13 motion to vacate.
PepsiCo is now asking that the statue of limitations preclude the lawsuit since it has occured 15 years after the company started selling Aquafina. They also cite that the lawsuit, which is unprecedented in size justifies the need for the company to defend themselves.
A hearing for PepsiCo is scheduled for Nov. 6.