BURLINGTON — Attorneys for a group of Vermont Bread employees who were fired without warning in April 2021 are asking a federal judge to sanction the entity that owned Koffee Kup Bakery and its subsidiaries for less than a month before shutting them down.
“The deadline for [American Industrial Acquisitions Co.] defendants to respond to the plaintiffs’ motion for sanctions was Jan. 3, 2023, and no such opposition has been filed nor has any extension been granted for such filing,” wrote Mary E. Olsen and M. Vance McCrary of the Gardner Law Firm on behalf of the employees.
The suit, which received class action status last year, was filed by former employees of Koffee Kup in Burlington, Vermont Bread in Brattleboro, and Superior Bakery in Connecticut against American Industrial Acquisition Corp. and KK Bakery Investment Co., which they accused of not giving them a 60-day notice of termination.
The motion to enforce sanctions was co-signed by David Dunn, attorney for former state Rep. Linda Joy Sullivan, who was appointed by a state judge to oversee the dissolution of the bakeries.
Last December, AIAC’s defense counsel filed a motion to withdraw, and shortly after the ex-employees filed the motion for sanctions.
Judge William K. Sessions III set Jan. 3 as a deadline for AIAC to find new counsel and set a hearing date of Feb. 6 to discuss the sanctions motion calling for legal fees and a prohibition preventing AIAC from presenting any evidence, arguments or rebuttal related to the testimony given by Jeff Sands, of Dorset, who helped arrange AIAC’s acquisition of Koffee Kup, Vermont Bread and Superior Bakery.
The plaintiffs asked Sessions to sanction AIAC also, because Leonard Levie, its director, has not appeared for a follow-up deposition scheduled for November.
Despite promising Levie’s appearance via the internet in Vermont in November, AIAC responded that it could “designate whoever they wanted to appear ... and that they did not now intend to put up Mr. Levie,” wrote the attorneys in the motion for sanctions.
The plaintiffs are seeking sanctions, because the defendants have been “belatedly dribbling out relevant documentary evidence or, in some instances, simply refusing to produce it at all ... a pattern of discovery abuses and obfuscation by the AIAC defendants.”
The judge reset the deadline to appoint a new attorney to Jan. 15, and though on Jan. 13, an attorney entered a notice for appearance on behalf of lead counsel for AIAC, lead counsel has not filed its own notice.
The ex-employees also are being represented by Lankenau and Miller LLP in New York City, Cleary Shahi and Aicher PC in Rutland, the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice, and Dentons US LLP.