A Hot Mess Is Cooking With Dueling Lawsuits Over Big Shake’s Hot Chicken

By Cheryl Truman
Lexington Herald-Leader

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Things are heating up in the courtroom for a Tennessee Chef who first came to national attention in a 2011 TV appearance on “Shark Tank.” Chef Shawn Davis started a retail food business and then a restaurant chain in Franklin. In this case, what started off as a partnership with all smiles has become quite acrimonious

Lexington Herald-Leader

The ownership of the hot chicken business started by Tennessee chef Shawn Davis, better known as “Chef Big Shake,” will apparently be decided in court.

Davis, who first came to national attention in a 2011 TV appearance on the ABC entrepreneur showcase “Shark Tank,” started a retail food business and then a restaurant chain in Franklin, Tennessee, along with his wife Robin.

The two say in their securities fraud lawsuit, filed in October in Nashville, that they entered into an agreement to sell 75 percent of their ownership stake because they were dazzled by promises of immediate expansion and millions of dollars in profits from Lexington businessman Lee White — and by a visit from former Kentucky governor and Kentucky Fried Chicken czar John Y. Brown Jr., who they assumed was working with White.

Their lawsuit includes allegations of securities fraud, fraudulent inducement and breach of fiduciary duty against the Lexington Big Shake company created after the sale agreement.

But there’s another lawsuit, filed by White against the Davises.

That suit, filed in United States District Court in Lexington on Nov. 11, alleges that the Davises and their companies sold “all know-how, trade secrets, confidential information, processes, formulas and copy rights.” It alleges that the Davises’ companies are “unlawfully benefiting from the good will and reputation” of White’s company by violating a non-compete clause in the sale contract.

The suit alleges a raft of offenses against the Davises and their companies, including unlawful deceptive trade practices, trademark infringement, trademark counterfeiting, false advertising and misappropriation of recipes for such dishes as “Hot Chicken — Stop, Drop & Roll” and the “Original Shrimp Burger.” The Davises are also accused of trying to sell franchises when they were not entitled to do so.

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