The outcome of a $1.9 million case involving money allegedly owed to a New York produce wholesaler could hinge on when the wholesaler obtained its Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act license.
Belleza Fruit Inc., Yorktown, N.Y., filed the PACA trust action in federal court June 18, naming Long Island Banana Corp., Lynbrook, N.Y., as the defendant. The suit also lists Suffolk Banana Co. Inc., Yaphank, N.Y.
The case names Thomas Hoey Jr. as a defendant, identifying him as the person controlling the day-to-day operations of the banana companies.
Belleza Fruit contends Suffolk Banana Co. Inc. owes $242,239 and Long Island Banana Corp. owes $1.75 million for produce it received from Sept. 27, 2010, through June 11 this year. In the complaint against the banana companies, Belleza officials state that their company was a duly licensed dealer under PACA “at all pertinent times.”
However, in an exhibit attached to the complaint, a copy of the PACA license for Belleza shows that the company did not receive a PACA license until March 21 this year.
In an answer to the complaint, Hoey contends Belleza not only wasn’t licensed under PACA, but that it failed to satisfy the prerequisite notice and other procedural and statutory requirements for establishing a PACA Trust against his companies.
On June 21, Judge Sandra Feuerstein ordered Long Island Banana Corp. to obtain a $450,000 bond by June 25. She also set an initial conference hearing in the case for July 19.
Hoey’s companies are also named in at least two other federal court cases filed by produce companies seeking payment under PACA.
Pacific Fruit Inc., Newark, N.J., contends it is owed $413,912 for produce sold to Long Island Banana from July 2, 2010 through April 27, 2011.
Fruit Importers Americas Inc., Newark, N.J. contends Long Island Banana owes it $64,800 for produce sold in October 2011.