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Lisy Corp. v. McCormick & Co., Inc.

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

October 7, 2014

LISY CORPORATION
v.
McCORMICK & CO., INC., ET AL

Argued by: Steven M. Hecht (Thomas E. Redburn, Jr., Alison Price, Lowenstein, Sandler, LLP of Roseland, NJ) (Albert J. Mezzanotte, Jr., Ilana Subar, Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, LLP of Baltimore, MD.) all on the brief for Appellant.

Argued by: David H. Bamberger(Edward S. Scheideman, Paul D. Schmitt, DLA, Piper, LLP of Washington, D.C.) all on the brief for Appellee.

Krauser, C.J., Berger, Kenney, James. A., III (Retired, Specially Assigned), JJ. Opinion by Berger, J.

OPINION

Page 531

[219 Md.App. 593] Berger, J.

This is an appeal from a bench trial resulting in judgment in favor of the defendants-appellees, McCormick & Company, Inc. and Mojave Foods Corporation (collectively, " McCormick" ) and against the plaintiff-appellant, Lisy Corporation (" Lisy" ).[1] Lisy presents three questions for our consideration,[2] which we have consolidated and rephrased as a single issue:

[219 Md.App. 594] Whether a completed case information report, on which an election of a jury trial is noted and which is filed with the complaint and served on the opposing party, is a proper vehicle for demanding a jury trial.

For the reasons that follow, we conclude that checking the " jury demand" box on the case information report is not a proper demand for a jury trial. Accordingly, we shall affirm the judgment of the Circuit Court for Howard County.

FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

This case arose out of a business and employment dispute between Lisy, McCormick, and Barry A. Adams (" Adams" ). Lisy is a manufacturer and distributor of various spices, seasonings, herbs, snacks, and chiles throughout the United States. McCormick is a manufacturer and distributor of seasonings, herbs, condiments, ethnic foods, desserts, and other specialty items. Mojave is a subsidiary of McCormick. Mojave has two brands that directly compete with Lisy.

Adams was an employee of Lisy and held the position of " Territory Manager." Adams's territory included Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia, and parts of Pennsylvania. His responsibilities included overseeing Lisy's customers and customer accounts in the territory and maintaining contact with Lisy's customers in order to sell Lisy products to customers within the territory.

Lisy claimed that Adams abandoned his work for Lisy and began working for McCormick in violation of his employment

Page 532

contract. Lisy filed a complaint against Adams and McCormick on February 28, 2011 in the Circuit Court for Howard [219 Md.App. 595] County, alleging, inter alia, tortious interference with contract, tortious interference with business relations, and breach of Adams's employment contract. Along with its complaint, Lisy also filed a civil non-domestic case information report, which was subsequently served on all of the defendants. On the case information report, Lisy checked the " yes" box in the jury demand section.[3] Lisy did not file any separate document demanding a jury trial.

On April 11, 2012, Lisy filed an amended complaint, adding a claim for violation of the Maryland Uniform Trade Secrets Act. The amended complaint made no mention of a demand for jury trial, and Lisy did not file any separate document demanding a jury trial.

On July 25, 2012, the circuit court issued a notice scheduling the case for a jury trial on September 17, 2012. A separate order from the court, also issued on July 25, 2012, clarified that the trial would actually begin on September 18, 2012 because Rosh Hashanah fell on September 17, 2012. This was the ...


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