Tervis Lawsuit Heats Up With Conflict of Interest Accusation
The ongoing legal battle between Trinity Graphic and Tervis Tumbler Company has taken an interesting turn, as Trinity Graphic is now trying to disqualify Tervis' attorneys on the grounds of conflict of interest.
Trinity detailed in a motion filed April 26 that Douglas A. Cherry, a partner at Shumaker Loop & Kendrick LLP, had represented Trinity in intellectual property matters leading up to the legal battle with Tervis. There's also the question of whether or not his representation of Trinity overlapped with the current lawsuit against Tervis.
Cherry isn't representing Tervis himself in the lawsuit, but his status as a partner at the law firm raised questions for Trinity.
"From the very beginning, all we've wanted is a fair fight and a fair chance to make our case," Jonathan Pollard, Trinity's attorney, told the Tampa Bay Business Journal. "Shumaker Loop represented Trinity for general intellectual property matters from November 2016 until at least December 2017. This trade secret case was filed in January 2018. And last I checked, trade secrets are intellectual property."
The problem with Pollard's argument here is that "at least December 2017" isn't air-tight detailing. Had Cherry left Trinity prior to when this lawsuit started in January, it diminishes their case for conflict of interest. There's also the fact that Cherry isn't actively involved in this case, either, at least not on the surface level.
What's more, Shumaker's representation of Trinity was related to a patent application for golf mats, not drinkware, the subject of the current case.
The motion Trinity filed claims that Cherry was, however, aware of Trinity and Tervis' "adversarial" relationship, especially relating to the Tervis wraps.
In its rebuttal, the law firm claimed that its relationship with Trinity ended "at the latest" on Dec. 14, 2017, when the patent for the golf mat expired. That's more specific than Pollard's estimation, but there's still the language of "at the latest," rather than anything definitive.
Trinity filed its lawsuit Jan. 26, and Shumaker Loop & Kendrick said it was retained "at some point between then and Feb. 16," well after it claims Cherry was no longer working with Trinity.
Tervis did not respond to a request for comment.
For more information on Tervis, visit www.tervis.com.