A dispute over trade secrets used in the manufacture of fiber optic cables has culminated in a $33.1 million verdict.

On Sept. 26, Super Vision International Inc. prevailed in a suit alleging civil theft and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act violations against a former employee and a family of Chinese entrepreneurs.

Super Vision attorney John Edwin Fisher said that once civil theft damages are trebled under Florida law, he expects a final judgment of approximately $41 million.

According to Fisher, in 1994, Samson Wu and his Opti-Tech International Corp. contracted to be Super Vision’s exclusive distributor in Asia. When Super Vision terminated the relationship, Wu paid Jack Caruso, Super Vision’s director of research and development, $1.5 million to steal trade secrets, which Wu and his family used to file a U.S. patent.

After learning of the theft, Super Vision coordinated with the FBI to search Caruso’s home and the Wus’ Miami warehouse.

But before the search could be carried out, Fisher said, Opti-Tech shredded sales documents and moved inventory to Shanghai, China. Super Vision was then granted an injunction preventing Opti-Tech from selling any products using the stolen trade secrets.

Super Vision also hired a private investigator who, while posing as a Dubai businessman in Shanghai, videotaped Caruso and Wu in-law James Lee offering to sell him fiber optics. The private eye also caught on tape a piece of equipment that Caruso had allegedly stolen. When Judge Thomas Spencer’s order to return the equipment was not obeyed in a timely fashion, Thomas struck the pleadings of seven defendants and sent them to trial with liability already determined.

Defense counsel Philip J. Snyderburn said that two appeals have been filed, one challenging the denial of a motion to stay the civil trial until the resolution of criminal proceedings and one challenging the striking of pleas.

Plaintiff’s attorneys: John Edwin Fisher and Joseph Tamborello of Fisher, Sushmer, Werrenrath, Dickson, Talley & Dunlap in Orlando, Fla.

Defense attorney: Philip J. Snyderburn of Synderburn, Rishoi & Swann in Orlando.