Muffin Man Enjoined from Working at Hostess

Chris Botticella accepted an offer to join Hostess Inc. as vice president of bakery operations for eastern Texas in October 2009. He didn't get around to informing his then-employer, competitor Bimbo Bakeries USA Inc., until January 2010.

Following Botticella's disclosure of the job offer and the discovery of a series of suspicious actions he took leading up to his departure--including copying confidential documents containing trade secrets onto external storage devices--Bimbo sought an injunction barring him from beginning employment with Hostess. In February, Bimbo scored a victory when U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick issued a preliminary injunction, prohibiting Botticella from beginning work at Hostess at least until a full hearing scheduled for April.

In the months prior to his departure from Bimbo, Botticella continued to attend confidential meetings and engaged in suspicious behavior, such as copying sensitive electronic files. In one such instance, during the Christmas holiday of 2009, he deleted several documents--some containing personal information, such as his resum?, and others containing confidential information--from his company-issued laptop. Though Botticella testified that he didn't think the documents would have "any value to anybody," he nonetheless asked a Bimbo computer tech to restore the files on January 4, 2010, "just in case for the next weeks we needed to have a meeting or something."

"I have no doubt that his behavior had a lot to do with this," says James Gehrke, an associate at Gehrke and Associates and blogger for the firm's Intellectual Property and Tech Law Reports blog. "It's a radical step for the court to enjoin someone from employment, because he needs to have a salary and obviously Hostess wants his resources. But to be transferring files and then offering some pretty suspicious excuses for why he was doing that certainly didn't help
his situation."

Kayleigh Roberts

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