A Peekskill doula training company claims that a consultant stole its placenta pill trade secrets.
ProDoula Certification LLC is suing Debbie Pocica of Elmhurst, Illinois, for $500,000 and asking a court to stop her from competing against it.
Pocica and her attorney did not respond to telephone and email messages asking for her side of the story.
Debbie Aglietti and Randy Patterson founded ProDoula in 2015 to provide training and certification in the loosely regulated doula profession.
Doulas provide nonmedical emotional and physical support to women before, during and after childbirth.
ProDoula offers doula training across the country and in Canada. Its placenta encapsulation workshops, for instance, demonstrate the practice of steaming, dehydrating, grinding and placing the placenta into pills to be ingested by the mother.
Advocates believe that the nutrient-rich placenta – the organ that surrounds the fetus in the womb – confers health benefits to the mother.
ProDoula hired Pocica in 2015 as an independent contractor to develop a curriculum and certification standards for placenta encapsulation workshops and to train doulas, the complaint states, for a share of the profits.
She signed a second contract last year to provide training and certification services.
Both contracts allowed Pocica to pursue business opportunities, according to the complaint filed by attorney Richard C. Ebeling of Putnam Valley, as long as she didn’t compete directly or indirectly with ProDoula for up to three years after the contracts ended.
Pocica terminated the contracts last November, the complaint states, and then set up a Facebook placenta business mentorship group. In February, she launched the Placenta Training Co., offering placenta encapsulation classes.
ProDoula claims that its curriculum contains placenta encapsulation trade secrets that are not generally known to competitors.
The lawsuit was originally filed on May 30 in Westchester Supreme Court. Pocica’s attorney, Joshua R. Bressler of Manhattan, moved the case to White Plains federal court on July 2, arguing that federal law governs intellectual property rights.