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Hollywood actors often turn to side businesses. But these restaurants or cosmetic products can turn out to require more than passing attention. Case in point: Sylvester Stallone will soon stand trial for participating in an alleged theft of a pudding recipe for bodybuilders.
Stallone is on the board of directors for a nutrition supplements company called Instone LLC, which purchased a high-energy, low-carb pudding for bodybuilders from another company, Freedom Foods LLC.
In 2004, Freedom Foods sued another pudding developer, William Brescia, seeking a declaration that it had developed its own distinctive pudding process and that Brescia’s claims to the contrary constituted trade libel. In 2005, Brescia countersued, bringing in Freedom’s business partners as co-defendants, including Stallone.
The case has been going up and down the court circuit since then, and in the most recent legal move, Stallone sought summary judgment that would dismiss the complaint against him. He testified that he knew nothing about the animosity between Freedom Foods and Brescia.
Brescia countered that Stallone was involved in Instone’s business activities, participated in decision making, sampled and complimented Brescia’s pudding, approved the Instone contract with suggestions for a new flavor, and that Instone and Freedom Foods coordinated a fund for defending Brescia’s trade secret misappropriation claims.
Last week, Los Angeles Superior Court judge Michael Johnson refused to dismiss Stallone from the case, finding that the actor’s involvement and knowledge in the theft dispute is an issue for a jury.
According to the decision:
“While Stallone may not have known about recipes, formulas and other details of the production process, there is a triable issue as to whether his knowledge of Brescia’s misappropriation claims created a duty to investigate their substance before approving and promoting the pudding that Instone purchased from Freedom Foods.”
The decision could potentially mean a lot of money for Stallone if a jury agrees with Brescia’s claims. Previously, two Instone executives were found jointly liable to Brescia for $4.9 million.
Stallone’s reps haven’t responded yet to requests for comment.
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