KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A bakery owner in Blount County has filed a lawsuit against a donut shop owner, accusing him of harassment and defamation.
Lisa Cunningham, the owner of Blount County Bakery, LLC, claims that Dustin Cochran, the owner of Richy Kreme Doughnuts and Myrtle’s Bakehouse, engaged in a pattern of harassment and defamation against her, her husband, and her business. His behavior has allegedly impacted their ability to grow and has harmed the business’s revenue.
“Lisa is exhausted with having to defend her brand at the Maryville Farmers Market and other events when customers tell her what Dustin Cochran says about her and her bakery,” said Robert Cunningham. “It’s become so repetitive and so hateful, that she felt it was time to do something legal.”
According to the lawsuit, Cochran accused Cunningham of stealing his logo and cookie recipe in July 2021. He threatened to send a cease and desist letter, but none was received. The lawsuit claims Lisa Cunningham has been in the bakery business for 15 years. She started selling cookies under the name OverArt before changing it to The Blount County Bakery in January 2021.
“Plaintiffs created their logo and cookie recipe/concept prior to the Defendant going into the cookie business. It is logically impossible for them to have copied him,” reads the lawsuit.
The lawsuit lists several instances of harassment and false claims made by Cochran against The Blount County Bakery and the Cunninghams. For example, at the Taste of Blount event in September 2021, Cochran allegedly told customers that The Blount County Bakery had frozen cookies, a stolen logo, and no products made in-house. In March 2023, Cochran allegedly told a woman buying sweets for an event that the Cunninghams were drug addicts who copied his logo and stole his cookie idea. The lawsuit also claims that Cochran told that woman that Robert Cunningham was a sexual predator despite him never having been charged with a sexual offense.
In July 2023, Cochran responded to a Facebook post by Robert Cunningham promoting The Blount County Bakery on a forum called “Newcomers to Maryville.” The comment alleged read “This guy apparently funds this bakery. They buy cakes from a factory in Nashville and resell them in Blount County. He will also cuss you, insult you and threaten you. Only speaking from experience.”
The lawsuit provides a list of false statements Cochran allegedly made to third parties:
- The Blount County Bakery stole his logo.
- The Blount County Bakery stole his cookie recipe/concept.
- The Blount County Bakery’s cookies look too similar to his to not be copies.
- Ms. Cunningham is a drug addict.
- Mr. Cunningham is a sexual predator who harasses women.
- All of the products from The Blount County Bakery are frozen.
- All of the products from The Blount County Bakery are made in Nashville by another bakery.
- That he is currently suing The Blount County Bakery for defamation and copyright infringement.
The lawsuit accuses Cochran of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, stalking, and harassment. The Cunninghams are seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, and court costs.