SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah soda shop chain locked in a court battle over flavor-shot-spiked “dirty sodas” is pushing back against a judge’s order requiring them to hire a new lawyer because their current attorney is married to one of the shop’s co-owners.
Sodalicious argued there’s no evidence Tessa Meyer Santiago would break ethical rules by sharing information about the case with her husband.
Santiago has no involvement in day-to-day business decisions, and her husband’s role in the company is limited, she argued in court documents filed Thursday.
Santiago objected to an order last month that required Sodalicious to hire another attorney in the fight against competitor Swig and asked another judge to reconsider. Having to pay another lawyer would be unfairly expensive for the company, she has said.
Swig argues the married relationship creates too much risk that sensitive financial information filed in the case could accidentally get into the wrong hands. U.S. Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead agreed.
The court fight is unfolding as the sweet drinks grow increasingly popular and profitable in a majority-Mormon state where sugar is a common indulgence. Swig has about a dozen locations across Utah, and Sodalicious has also expanded into the suburbs of Phoenix.
Swig filed the lawsuit claiming Sodalicious ripped off their trademarked “dirty” concept, down to the frosted sugar cookies sold alongside the sweet drinks.
Sodalicious denies that, arguing dirty is a common drink moniker and tongue-in-cheek nicknames for their beverages like “Second Wife” make their business distinctly different.
The case is set for trial in August 2017.