MIDLOTHIAN, Texas (News release) -- On April 12, 2023, a Nebraska jury rendered a unanimous verdict against Wright Printing Company, its owner, Mark Wright, and CEO Mardra Sikora for a total of $5 million in actual and punitive damages. The lawsuit was filed by Crabar/GBF, Inc., a subsidiary of Ennis, Inc., which purchased Wright Printing Company's Folder Express and Progress Publications folder businesses for $15 million in 2013.
The jury found that Wright Printing Company, Mark Wright and Mardra Sikora misappropriated confidential information and trade secrets regarding customer lists, customer sales data and specifications regarding Crabar's entire Folder Express and Progress Publications custom folder line to launch competing folder brands called Pocket Folders Fast and Bandfolder Press. Wright Printing Company launched the competing business in the same facility that Crabar had recently vacated after Mark Wright told Crabar that he was selling the building and Crabar had to vacate.
Efforts to duplicate the Folder Express and Progress Publications product lines were assisted by the theft of detailed product specifications, manufacturing references and files, as well as folder templates. Former Folders Express employee Alexandra Kohlhaas took an external hard drive when she left Folders Express to go back to work for Wright Printing Company and its startup folder businesses in 2016. When Wright Printing Company's prepress manager, Jamie Fredrickson, received a copy of a spreadsheet from Kohlhass containing the manufacturing specifications for every Folder Express and Progress Publications folder design, she forwarded it to Mark Wright and Mardra Sikora with her observation that the spreadsheet was "incredibly useful." Ultimately, Wright Printing Company duplicated all of the Folder Express and Progress Publications top-selling products. They then launched a direct marketing campaign targeted at the top customers of Folder Express and Progress Publications that Mark Wright and Mardra Sikora culled from the confidential customer data that Wright Printing Company had sold to Crabar with a covenant never to use in the future.
After a two-week trial, the jury unanimously found in favor of the Ennis subsidiary on all counts as to all defendants. In addition to awarding Crabar more than $3.75 million in actual damages, the jury assessed more than $1.25 million in punitive damages among Mark Wright, Mardra Sikora, Jamie Fredrickson and Alexandra Kohlhass for what the jury found to be clear and convincing evidence of willful and malicious misappropriation of trade secrets. As requested by Ennis' representative at trial, the jury apportioned only modest amounts against the employees Fredrickson and Kohlhass to impose accountability for their wrongdoing without imposing extreme hardship for actions taken for the benefit of Wright Printing Company and Mark Wright.
Ennis, Inc. CEO, Keith Walters, provided the following comment on the jury's verdict.
The jury's verdict that defendants willfully and maliciously misappropriated our trade secret information affirms the importance of Ennis' property rights. Ennis filed this lawsuit because it owes its shareholders a duty to protect their investment and to recapture the substantial losses caused by defendants' misappropriation of confidential information to gain an unfair advantage in the market. Ennis is satisfied that the jury's verdict is a just outcome for it and its shareholders.
For a more detailed version of this press release, please visit https://www.ennis.com/2023/04/14/ennis-announces-verdict-in-lawsuit-against-wright-printing-company/