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Ocean Spray Headache Continues

As the trial is expected to commence shortly, we’ve been asked to provide a round-up of our coverage of the issues raised by the lawsuit between Jim and Theresa Nolan, their company, The Nolan Network and Ocean Spray:

  1. Pundit Sister publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS, published Special Report: Ocean Spray Sued By Longtime Associates, which provided an overview of the complaint filed by the Nolans.
  2. We then ran Ocean Spray Trial Will Shed Light On Business Practices, which reviewed the issues from a business and ethical, rather than a legal, perspective.
  3. Will Retailers Wait For A Trial To Act On Ocean Spray Controversy? pointed out that retailers have not traditionally required legal judgments to seek compensation when retailers felt they had been wronged.
  4. We then raised the possibility that, in addition to the Robinson-Patman Act violations alleged in the complaint, the way cranberry growers at Ocean spray were paid may have caused Ocean Spray to violate the PACA. The piece was called Ocean Spray Case Delves Into Robinson-Patman and PACA Violations.
  5. Pundit’s Mailbag — Robinson-Patman Attorney Weighs In On Ocean Spray was the title we gave to a piece built around a letter we received from a Robinson-Patman attorney who was not impressed with Ocean Spray’s defense, at least in regard to its actions with Costco.
  6. Most recently Ocean Spray’s Special Treatment of HEB reviewed some of the evidence supporting the assertion that Ocean Spray, favoring H.E. Butt over Wal-Mart, Safeway, Kroger and others, gave H.E. Butt the favorable pricing available for full trailerload trucking, even though it only received cranberries in less-than-trailerload shipments.

Legal cases often settle, and it is hard to believe that it is in Ocean Spray’s interests to continue airing its dirty laundry in public.

This is going to be a big headache no matter what. Sam’s Club will have its thoughts, supermarket chains that competed with H.E. Butt will have their thoughts, and the USDA will surely investigate the possibility of PACA violations.

Is Ocean Spray really going to want the additional headache of a public lawsuit? One wonders who at Ocean Spray let the situation get this far?

You can count on the Pundit to keep you informed on this issue involving an iconic produce brand, America’s largest retailers and two well known and respected produce personalities.

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