John Suayan Jul. 18, 2016, 3:07pm


A Plano-based casual Mediterranean restaurant chain has taken its founders’ son to federal court on allegations he misrepresented the company and infringed upon its trademarks.

In court papers filed July 11 in the Sherman Division of the Eastern District of Texas, Zoës Kitchen, Inc. explains that Vestavia, Ala., resident John Cassimus, whose parents Zoë and Marcus started the eatery in Jefferson County, Ala., in 1995, owns and operates three restaurant chains similar to it.

The lawsuit says that the younger Cassimus served as CEO of the predecessor entity to Zoës until 2008.

The defendant, the lawsuit further states, appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box last month and “spoke on behalf of Zoës in a manner which indicated he still was an affiliate with or representative of the company or was otherwise speaking on behalf of the company.”

According to the complaint: “During this CNBC interview, Cassimus engaged in remarks which do not reflect the statements, ideals, principles or opinions of Zoës. Many of such statements were either plainly false or inaccurate in nature.”

Zoës also claims that Cassimus infringed upon its tradename and trademark, asserting the respondent featured the complainant’s logo on his Web site without permission. In addition, the defendant allegedly promoted his ventures while leading others to believe that he was associated with the plaintiff.

“The public as well as investors were, and continue to be, confused by Cassimus' statements about his affiliation with Zoës and its relationship to his current restaurant chains' endeavors,” the original petition says.

The suit faults Cassimus for negatively affecting its stock value.

“For example, Zoës common stock price closed at $38.23 per share on June 21,2016, and after the Cassimus CNBC interview, on June 22,2016, the Zoës common stock reached a low ol$37.35 and closed at $37.55, an approximate $10 million reduction in its market capitalization,” it says.

Zoës ultimately insists that it did not grant the respondent “permission or authority in any manner to speak on behalf of, or represent, Zoës, or to use the Zoës Registrations.”

Consequently, the plaintiff seeks unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

It is represented by attorney Bina B. Palnitkar of the law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP in Dallas.

Sherman Division of the Eastern District of Texas Case No. 4:16-CV-00512

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