Rot­ten pota­toes

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

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - 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 Frito-Lay 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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