Lawsuit alleges intrigue by pet food, packaging companies

The lawsuit alleges that Diamond and Morris conspired to entice employees to leave Gateway and join Morris.

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(Piotr Adamowicz |
(Piotr Adamowicz |

Gateway Packaging filed a lawsuit in the Missouri Western District Court against Morris Converting, Morris Packaging and Schell and Kampeter, the parent company of Diamond Pet Foods, for allegedly stealing trade secrets, reported the Jefferson City, Missouri, USA News Tribune. The allegedly stolen information related to the manufacture of dog food bags for Costco.

The lawsuit claims that the defendants hired two former employees of Gateway Packaging, Greg Below and Joseph Fiore, who had knowledge of the bag-making processes. The lawsuit also alleges that Diamond and Morris conspired to entice Below and Fiore to leave Gateway and join Morris.

However, a lawyer for the defendants claimed that the techniques for making the bags is commonly known in the industry. In a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, the lawyer claimed that the plaintiffs failed to identify which specific trade secrets were divulged by Fiore and Below. 

In the lawsuit, Gateway asked for an award of US$9.8 million in actual damages, along with another US$9.8 in damages for unjust enrichment of the defendants.

About pet food company and flexible packaging manufacturers

Flexible packaging maker Gateway Packaging is based in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. Morris Converting, another flexible packaging manufacturer, is based in Jefferson City, Missouri and competes directly with Gateway.

Diamond Pet Foods manufactures three brands of food for dogs and cats, according to the Petfood Industry Top Companies database. The family-owned and privately held company is headquartered in Meta, Missouri with pet food manufacturing facilities in South Carolina, Arkansas and California.

Background to lawsuit over pet food packaging

Diamond purchased the majority of its pet food packaging from Morris, before 2013, according to court documents cited by the News Tribune. However, Costco allegedly complained that their 40-pound bags ruptured too easily, and Diamond began a relationship with Gateway. In 2014, Gateway began developing a bag to meet Diamonds needs. The research project to create these bags with an outer nylon shell and inner paper lining cost approximately US$2 million.

The lawsuit alleges that Below and Fiore received emails with the technical specifications for these new bags developed for Costco, and that they shared this information with Morris after leaving Gateway and being hired by Gateway.

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