An administration action filed under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act against The Chuck Olsen Co., Visalia, Calif., was premature and failed to consider all the facts, according to Patricia Rynn, the company’s attorney.
“The USDA’s allegations are based upon a document review which was incomplete, and the complaint therefore presents a skewed and misleading characterization of the company’s sales practices,” said Rynn, a partner in Rynn & Janowsky LLP, Newport Beach, Calif.
The Sept. 15 action stems from transactions that are more than two years old. In the action, the USDA alleges The Chuck Olsen Co. underpaid eight grower-shippers a total of $30,482 for their fruit and overcharged by more than $40,000 the growers for cold storage expenses.
The USDA failed to include in its calculations expenses that The Chuck Olsen Co. incurred in repacking and other tasks needed to make the fruit marketable, Rynn said.
“Once we have been afforded our day in court and all of the facts have been presented, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the allegations made against The Chuck Olsen Company are meritless,” she said.
The USDA policy of releasing publicly allegations before the company has had an opportunity to rebut the claims and before facts have been proven is unfair, Rynn said.
“We think the agency’s policy is reckless, irresponsible and just plain wrong, especially when made to others in the tight-knit produce industry where reputation means everything,” she said.