Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Lauren Handel-win for Dalmatia

Alumni Update: Lauren Handel

LL.M. Alumna Lauren Handel
LL.M. Alumna Lauren Handel of Handel Food Law LLC secures a win for her client, jam-maker Dalmatia Import Group, Inc. 

Our alumna, Lauren Handel is the principal attorney at Handel Food Law, a law firm that represents independent food and beverage companies. One of her clients is Dalmatia Import Group, Inc. Dalmatia is known for its award-winning fig spread and is recognized as the market leader in specialty fig jam products sold throughout the country at grocery stores and other food markets.  A year ago, Dalmatia discovered that two of its former business partners, New York-based FoodMatch, Inc. and Pennsylvania-based Lancaster Fine Foods, Inc., were working together to launch an impersonator jam called “Divina fig spread.” Around that same time, Dalmatia also learned that those same business partners had sold and distributed fig spread under Dalmatia’s label that was rejected by Dalmatia, and, in other instances, produced and sold fig spread under Dalmatia’s label in Dalmatia’s trademark jars without Dalmatia’s knowledge or consent.

Recognizing that complex federal litigation was needed, Lauren partnered with litigators from her
former law firm, McDermott Will & Emery to bring suit on behalf of her client.  The ensuing case involved trade secret misappropriation, trademark infringement, and counterfeiting claims. On February 24, 2017, the jury handed down a decisive verdict in favor of Dalmatia, the first obtained by a law firm under the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act, signed into law in 2016. The jury awarded about $2.5 million in damages. After trebling of damages for counterfeiting, as required by the Lanham Act, the total award is expected to be about $5 million.

The verdict has been reported throughout the business and legal press.  National Law Journal headlined, Jam Maker Jars $2.5M Verdict in Trade Secrets Case, and also mentioned all of the women on Dalmatia's legal team - "McDermott's Nadel was joined on the litigation by partner Natalie Bennett and associate Jennifer Routh, all of the firm's Washington, D.C., office, along with Lauren Handel of the Handel Food Law Firm. Except for Nadel, every member of Dalmatia's trial team was female, including the paralegal, the "hot seat" graphics coordinator and, of course, the client herself."

Lauren earned her bachelor of arts degree, cum laude, from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1997; her JD, cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center in 2002; and an LL.M. in Agricultural and Food Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law in 2013. She is admitted to practice in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, the US Supreme Court, and the US District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.

In her previous role as a partner at McDermott Will & Emery LLP, her practice concentrated on product liability and environmental litigation, as well as workplace safety regulation. McDermott Will & Emery's announcement of the victory is available on their website.

After nearly 10 years of counseling and defending Fortune 50 companies, Lauren decided to put her skills and experience to work for independent businesses that produce the things she is most passionate about − good food and drink.  That brought her to our LL.M. Program and later to form Handel Food Law.  We are delighted with her success. 

For more on Lauren and her practice, visit the Handel Food Law website.

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