Cargill Inc. is suing a former high-ranking executive for alleged theft of trade secrets when he left his job for a position at JBS SA, one of Cargill’s biggest meat industry competitors.
Cargill filed the suit Thursday against Jason Kuan, a 20-year company veteran who most recently was managing director for its McDonald’s-related business in Canada. Kuan “suddenly resigned and left the job without prior notice” on Aug. 1, Cargill said, and took confidential computer files.
Kuan could not be reached for comment. The suit was filed in federal court in Colorado, where JBS USA is based. A spokesman for JBS didn’t immediately return a call for comment.
The U.S. meat industry is dominated by about a half-dozen companies, and Minnetonka-based Cargill and Brazil-based JBS are two of them.
Kuan had been in the Cargill post in Canada only since June. He worked for many years in Cargill’s “case ready” meat business, which provides meat to grocers that is ready for customers. “He had extensive leadership, experience and involvement with both the United States and Canadian case-ready markets,” Cargill said in the suit.
After Kuan left Cargill, the company said its analysis found he moved “hundreds of highly confidential and proprietary” files to an external hard drive, which he did not return when he left the company, the lawsuit said.
Cargill is asking the court for an injunction against Kuan from revealing any of its trade secrets and confidential information. The company is also asking for damages, including punitive damages, to be determined at a trial.