Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee is suing former Chief Operating Officer Robert Quinlan, arguing that he breached a severance deal made when the company let him go last year. Quinlan has since gone on to become director of operations and CEO of Chicago’s Metropolis Coffee Co.
According to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times, Intelligentsia has filed the breach-of-contract suit in Cook County Circuit Court, suggesting that Quinlan is likely to divulge trade secrets that might cut into Intelligentsia’s business. According to Quinlan’s LinkedIn profile, he worked at Intelligentsia beginning in 2002, eventually taking over as COO of Ecco Caffe when Intelligentsia acquired the San Francisco-based roastery in 2009. He was let go last year, and Intelligentsia agreed to pay him $55,384.64 in severance. The company cut off payments when discovering Quinlan’s new role at Metropolis, the Sun-Times analysis of the suit states.
“As CEO of Metropolis, given his knowledge of Intelligentsia’s marketing plans, business plans, pricing, marketing, and sales strategies, coffee roasting and production processes, and its global network of coffee farmers and suppliers, Quinlan has used or disclosed, and/or will inevitably use or disclose Intelligentsia’s confidential information and trade secrets to its direct competitor,” the suit states. “Quinlan’s inevitable disclosure of Intelligentsia’s trade-secret information will cause Intelligentsia to suffer damages in the form of lost revenue and profits,” the suit states.
An attorney representing Quinlan told Sun-Times reporter Lisa Donovan that Quinlan plans to file a countersuit seeking the balance of the severance package.