Jury Awards Valassis $16 Million in Sunflower Group Suit

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A federal jury has awarded Valassis $16.6 million in damages in the marketing services company's lawsuit against Dennis D. Garberg & Associates Inc., which did business as The Sunflower Group, Valassis said yesterday.

The verdict, returned last month, included damages for the loss of past and future profits.

The lawsuit, brought by Valassis in February 1999, stated that Sunflower wrongfully obtained proprietary information from Valassis' sampling business. The jury found Sunflower liable for misappropriating Valassis' trade secrets and inducing an individual to breach his loyalty to Valassis, according to the company.

"During the two-week trial, the evidence confirmed that Sunflower had misappropriated our proprietary information," said Lynn Liddle, vice president at Valassis, Livonia, MI. "We believed that this was a serious matter from the outset. After hearing all the facts, the jury obviously agreed."

The case was heard in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Valassis said it will ask the judge, Victoria A. Roberts, to enter a judgement on the verdict, which will total nearly $20 million with interest.

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