“Busy” Secretary Causes $1.26 Billion Headache for Pepsi

By Kiran Aditham 

Missing a Wisconsin state court appearance has cost PepsiCo a whopping $1.26 billion, which they’ve been ordered to pay as part of a case brought by Charles Joyce and James Voigt. The two Wisconsin men say the soft drink giant stole the idea to bottle and sell purified water from them.

First, some history. According to Yahoo! Finance, the litigation dates back to April, when Joyce and Voigt say two Pepsi distributors misappropriated trade secrets from confidential discussions the plaintiffs had with them back in 1981, which was then passed on to Pepsi who used it do develop and sell Aquafina. Sounds like Denizen found a couple kindred spirits.


PepsiCo now however argues that it was improperly served with the Wisconsin lawsuit in North Carolina and filed motions to vacate the order and dismiss the claims on Oct. 13th. While the plaintiffs maintain they served a lawsuit in June, Pepsi says it wasn’t even aware of it until October 6th. The company’s (weak) excuse for this which is listed in its motion to vacate is that a secretary in its law department was “so busy preparing for a board meeting,” that she put a legal document concerning the case aside and didn’t tell anyone about it.

But seeing as Aquafina has already been on the market for 15 years before the lawsuit arrived, the company says that the statute of limitations should preclude it. “The $1.26 billion judgment that has been entered is unprecedented in size and justice requires that PepsiCo have a chance to defend itself,” Pepsi added in a statement.

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