In strawberry lawsuit, jury sides with UC Davis over former professor

Douglas Shaw, a UC Davis plant science professor, walks through strawberry fields in Watsonville.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Jurors have sided with a California research university in its dispute with a renowned plant scientist credited with developing tasty strawberries as a professor there.

Jurors in a San Francisco federal court said Wednesday that professor Douglas Shaw broke the law when he and his research partner tried to profit from their work in a company they formed.

Shaw first sued the University of California, Davis, after he retired. He said the school unfairly kept some of his work locked in a freezer, depriving the world of a better strawberry. He sought $45 million, saying the university destroyed much of his work.


The university countersued, saying the professor stole the school’s intellectual property by taking some of the fruits of his research with him when he created his own company.

California is the No. 1 strawberry-growing state, with an annual crop worth $2 billion.