NEW YORK – Casual Male Retail Group said Thursday that a Federal jury had awarded it a total of $1.5 million in its suit against former associate Robert Yarbrough and competitor Westport Big & Tall.
The jury, impaneled in Federal court in Massachusetts, found that Yarbrough violated non-competition obligations to Casual Male and misappropriated the company’s trade secrets. He was directed to pay $1.1 million in damages. Westport was directed to pay another $400,000 in damages. In both cases, interest will accrue going back to 2005.
Still pending in Federal court in Massachusetts is a separate suit against Cutter & Buck, the Seattle-based sportswear and golfwear producer, and Yarbrough alleging similar violations.
Based in Canton, Mass., Casual Male Retail Group is the largest retail of big and tall menswear in the US. It operates 473 Casual Male XL retail and outlet stores, 25 Rochester Big & Tall units, 12 Casual Male at Sears-Canada operations as well as catalogs and e-commerce sites.
Yarbrough, who was associated with Rochester Big & Tall when it was acquired by CMRG in 2004, was accused of taking trade secrets and computer customer files with him when he later began working with Westport Big & Tall. He subsequently worked with Cutter & Buck on fulfillment and direct marketing efforts as well, precipitating the CMRG suit against C&B.
The suits have implications far beyond those of the regular ebb and flow of competition among retailers and wholesalers. They are among the first that hinge in part on a federal requirement, enacted late last year as a result of a Supreme Court decision, that parties anticipating litigation preserve electronically stored data that could affect resulting court cases. Failure to do so would work against a party’s arguments in court.