Foodstuffs: In Walpole, A Legal Dispute Over Ice Cream

Aug 28, 2014

It's unlikely anyone would describe legal wrangling over ice cream as sweet. Ice cream itself, on the other hand...
Credit Cascadian Farm via Flickr/CC http://ow.ly/APWQE

Yes, the Market Basket dispute is over, but not all is rosy in the New Hampshire food world. Take for example, the legal challenge in Walpole between two ice cream shops.

Reporter Kaitlin Mulhere has been covering the ice cream story for the Keene Sentinel, and she joined All Things Considered for an update.

The seeds of this conflict come from two men involved with the Walpole Creamery, right?

That’s right. The Walpole Creamery was founded in 2006 and one of the people involved at that time was David Westover. Fast forward a few years and in 2011, the four founders sold the business to a new group of investors that included Rob Kasper, who’s the current owner.

And then David Westover left the Walpole Creamery and set up his own shop. But there was an agreement that set certain conditions. 

Yeah. Part of the sale agreement in 2011 allowed David to sell Walpole Creamery products out of a shop in front of the production facility. The caveat was that he had to sell only Creamery products. That went fine for a while, and in fact Westover opened a brand new shop in 2012 that’s right down the road, the Walpole Scoop Shop.

That’s where the problem started. Westover claimed that the quality of the Creamery products fell – he wouldn’t tell me specifically what was wrong with the ice cream, but he said, and it’s also in court documents, that he had to return 20 or 25 tubs because they were unusable.

So he told Rob Kasper that he was no longer going to be buying the Creamery products and started making his own, and that’s where the lawsuit comes in.

The Walpole Creamery went to court to stop the other store, the Walpole Scoop Shop, from selling ice cream.

Right. Well, Rob Kasper and the Walpole Creamery had said that David Westover’s actions violate a non-compete agreement. There’s also quite a bit of documentation about the money that Kasper said he’d lost, and in the first go-round, you could say, the judge agreed with Kasper and ordered Westover to stop selling and making ice cream while a trial pends, so they could debate about whether or not this non-compete agreement is too broad.

But then, to throw another wrench into the plan, Westover sold the shop to another Walpole resident. And so, a couple weeks later, the sides were back in court, and Rob Kasper and the Creamery claimed the sale was just a disguise to get around the judge’s order to stop selling it. That time, the judge disagreed with Kasper and both stores are still open at this point.

And it doesn’t sound like the participants are going to sit down and hash this out over an ice cream sundae.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like that. I do know, based on some court records, that the attorneys have been in talks. But it doesn’t seem that it’s poised to end anytime soon.