A federal judge in the United States District Court, District of Montana, ruled on Sept. 30 that Deckers Outdoor Corp. must pay Molly Strong-Butts and her now-defunct company, Yeti by Molly, Ltd., an additional $4.29 million, including $2.45 million of exemplary damages and $1.84 million for attorney fees.
Strong-Butts and her company, Yeti by Molly, Ltd., filed suit against Deckers in the United States District Court, District of Montana in 1995, alleging that the company violated a non-disclosure agreement and obtained trade secrets Deckers utilized in a line of footwear which the company stopped producing in 1994.
A jury verdict found in favor of Strong-Butts in March 1999 aggregating $1,785,000, plus accrued interest, in damages for the plaintiffs. Deckers appealed, but in August 2001, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the previous judgment and Deckers paid the settlement in 2001. The Court of Appeals then turned the case back to the district court for further proceedings regarding exemplary damages and reimbursement of plaintiff's attorney fees -- which the judge hit Deckers with on Sept. 30.
Deckers is reviewing its options SNEWS® has been told.
SNEWS® View: We've kept mum about this long enough. Time for Deckers to cut its losses and move on. Deckers COB and CEO Doug Otto was, unfortunately, saddled with this case from previous management working for him in the early 90's. SNEWS® has been covering the back and forth between Strong-Butts and Deckers since the early '90s, long before a suit was even brought. And this much we were sure of then -- Deckers was going to have a very, very difficult time making its case, let alone winning it. No word on whether Strong-Butts will once again seek to launch her unique Yeti boots footwear line. As for Deckers -- the decision to enter the winter footwear market proved to be a dismal product failure in 1993 and 1994 and continues to haunt their books even now.