The parent company of Rhinelander, Wis.-based American Plastics Co. Inc. has filed a lawsuit against three former employees who are in the process of starting their own plastics manufacturing company in the same town.
The lawsuit, filed in Oneida County (Wis.) Circuit Court on March 21, alleges that Anthony Haug, Steven Pawelko and Kevin Kopplin misappropriated trade secrets, stole computer data and conspired to start a competing company while still employed at American Plastics, a subsidiary of Appleton, Wis.-based Appleton Papers Inc.
Haug, Pawelko and Kopplin are, respectively, the president, vice president of operations, and secretary-treasurer of a startup cast film extruder, Advanced Barrier Extrusion LLC. The new officers are finalizing company plans and intend to be up and running in their new, 30,000-square-foot plant in Rhinelander this summer.
ABX plans to employ about 25. The Oneida County Board of Supervisors helped ABX secure a $1.5 million loan.
ABX officials plan to manufacture an 18-layer film for food packaging and medical applications.
ABX's lawyer, Matthew Mayer of Wausau, Wis., said his client will mount a vigorous defense.
``These guys have nothing to hide,'' Mayer said in a March 31 telephone interview. ``They're not going to admit they misappropriated trade secrets or took any computer data, or anything like that.''
Mayer said American Plastics is a blown film extruder, and ABX is not.
``They use an entirely different process,'' he said. ``I don't believe it is the intention of ABX - which isn't even a functioning, operating company yet - to take any of the American Plastics customers.''
American Plastics officials could not be reached for comment.