Rot­ten po­ta­toes

Judge or­ders potato ship­per to pay sup­plier in dis­pute over spoiled spuds sent to Ar­gentina

Journal Pioneer - - NEWS - BY RYAN ROSS

A court fight over P.E.I. po­ta­toes shipped to Ar­gentina in 2007 has ended with a judge or­der­ing the ship­per to pay more than $118,000 to one of its sup­pli­ers. The law­suit stems from a con­tract that ship­per Visser Potato was try­ing to fill in 2007 to ship po­ta­toes by boat to Ar­gentina for cor­po­rate cus­tomers Gar­lic and Frito-Lay.

W.D. Potato pro­vided Visser Potato with 1,397.33 tonnes of po­ta­toes for ship­ping as part of the load that went to Ar­gentina. Visser Potato al­leged some of the po­ta­toes W.D. Potato pro­vided were spoiled when they reached their desti­na­tion.

In a re­cent de­ci­sion, P.E.I. Supreme Court Jus­tice James Gorm­ley ruled the po­ta­toes be­longed to Visser Potato once they were loaded on the ship in Sum­mer­side and the com­pany didn’t prove that those that were spoiled came from W.D. Potato. Gorm­ley or­dered Visser Potato to pay W.D. Potato $118,436.51 for the out­stand­ing bal­ance ow­ing for the ship­ment.

Some is­sues in the case weren’t in dis­pute, in­clud­ing a price of $200 per met­ric tonne W.D. Potato and Visser Potato agreed to for po­ta­toes suitable to be made into chips for Frito-Lay.

Part of the dis­pute was over who owned those po­ta­toes once they were de­liv­ered to the dock in Sum­mer­side.

In to­tal, there were 3,800 met­ric tonnes of po­ta­toes sent to Ar­gentina, in­clud­ing those W.D. Potato pro­vided.

Of those, 180 tonnes weren’t suitable to fill the con­tracts once they ar­rived in Ar­gentina. Com­pli­cat­ing mat­ters in the case in­cluded the poor health of one Visser Potato wit­ness and the death of an­other who were both un­able to tes­tify at the trial. Visser Potato ar­gued W.D. Potato should be re­spon­si­ble for the sub-par po­ta­toes at a rate of $430US per met­ric tonne, which was the mar­ket rate Frito-Lay was pay­ing.

Gorm­ley noted in his de­ci­sion that a Visser Potato rep­re­sen­ta­tive re­jected some po­ta­toes at the dock in Sum­mer­side.

Frito-Lay in­spec­tors were also on site do­ing a deep-fry test to make sure the po­ta­toes had the ap­pro­pri­ate colour be­fore they were loaded onto the ship. Gorm­ley wrote he dis­agreed with Visser Potato’s po­si­tion that W.D. Potato was re­spon­si­ble for the qual­ity of what they pro­vided un­til the po­ta­toes reached Fri­toLay in Ar­gentina.

Deal­ing with the is­sue of whose po­ta­toes were spoiled when they ar­rived in Ar­gentina, Gorm­ley said pho­tos pro­vided as ev­i­dence showed some bags that con­tained bad po­ta­toes.

Those pho­tos didn’t show where the spoiled po­ta­toes came from.

Gorm­ley said even if Visser Potato had been suc­cess­ful with re­gard to the other parts of the case, it didn’t pro­vide enough ev­i­dence to prove W.D. Potato sup­plied the spoiled po­ta­toes.

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