BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A state judge ruled Monday that Cajun Injector founder Maurice "Reece" Williams' claim that he was fraudulently induced to sell his line of marinades to Bruce Foods Corp. in 2003 will not be retried. An East Baton Rouge Parish jury rejected Williams' fraud allegations May 12, and state District Judge Kay Bates refused Monday to overturn the jury's verdict.
Chef Reece Williams & Co. LLC sought up to $24 million in damages from Bruce Foods, but the jury instead awarded New Iberia-based Bruce Foods a total of more than $565,000 in damages.
Williams' attorney, Joseph Ward Jr., argued during a hearing Monday that "justice was not served in this case."
The jury found that Cajun Injector breached the asset purchase agreement by failing to deliver the Cajun Injector recipes to Bruce Foods, and awarded Bruce Foods more than $341,000 for that breach.
Jurors also concluded Cajun Injector breached the agreement by failing to pay amounts owed to customers, vendors, sales agents and service providers for debts incurred before Bruce Foods entered into the agreement.
For that breach, the jury awarded Bruce Foods nearly $224,000.
Bates, who ruled June 16 that Williams is not personally liable for the $565,000-plus in damages awarded to Bruce Foods, refused Monday to reconsider that ruling.
The judge, however, requested additional written briefs on the recipe- and liability-related damage awards.
"I still have a problem deciding these two issues," she told Ward, Williams and Bruce Foods attorney Phil Franco.
Ward said after court that Bates could strike one or both of the damage awards or let both stand.
Franco said he intends to appeal the judge's decision regarding Williams' personal liability with respect to the damages awarded Bruce Foods.
The jury award is expected to jump to $1.1 million once judicial interest and attorneys' fees are factored in, lawyers for both sides have said.
Williams, who sold Clinton-based Cajun Injector to Bruce Foods in 2003, sued the buyer in 2005. Bruce Foods is one of the country's largest privately owned food makers.
The lawsuit alleged that Bruce Foods President J.S. "Si" Brown III promised to spend $1 million a year on advertising and grow the Cajun Injector brand by 20 percent each year.
The Cajun Injector marinades are injected into meat, poultry and seafood with a large syringe.