Grocery chain sues former director for allegedly stealing insider information

By Danielle Pacey | Sep 8, 2018

Save-A-Lot store   Wikimedia Commons

ST. LOUIS — The director of market development for Save-A-Lot grocery chain allegedly emailed himself confidential business information and then went to work for a  local competitor.

Save-A-Lot grocery chain filed a complaint on Sept. 5, in the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Missouri, alleging that the former director of market development for the retail division, Thomas Altadonna, allegedly stole confidential information days before his resignation.  He took a job with Save-A-Lot's competitor, Associated Wholesale Grocer (AWG).

Save-A-Lot believes that Altadonna allegedly gave AWG an unfair competitive advantage by allegedly taking confidential information that could be used to benefit a competitor. Save-A-Lot is accusing Altadonna of violating the Missouri Trade Secrets Act.

The company alleges that Altadonna's motive was malicious and reckless, and it is asking for exemplary and punitive damages.

United States District Court Seal   Wikimedia Commons

Altadonna was employed at Save-A-Lot for 24 years and had access to the company's financial reports, strategies, trade secrets and other confidential information, according to the complaint. 

Between July 21 and July 23, Altadonna allegedly emailed himself over 2,000 pages worth of secret documents from his business email to his personal email account days before his employment ended, according to court documents. 

Altadonna also signed an agreement with the company that he would not work for a competitor in the area within 12 months of termination, and he would return business information and property upon termination.

 In addition, he could not solicit any prospective customers or suppliers, and the agreement had a non-disclosure of confidential information, according to court documents. 

He also signed a relocation agreement that states repayment is due if an employee leaves the job within 24 months. The grocery chain believes that Altadonna violated both agreements.

Save-A-Lot is now suing Altadonna for breach of contract, as well as breach of loyalty and fiduciary duties, according to the lawsuit. The chain is seeking to recover the alleged relocation agreement breach, which is estimated to be over $11,000.

Save-A-Lot also alleges that Altadonna violated the Missouri Trade Secrets Act by misappropriating confidential trade secrets that only select employees within the company were privy to.

The grocery store chain also is asking for the court to award damages as they see fit and attorney fees.

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