(March 13) Richard Garabedian, a Fowler, Calif. grower and raisin industry leader who was among the founders of the Raisin Bargaining Association, has filed suit against the organization. The suit claims association leaders defamed, libeled and slandered him.

The suit is the latest chapter in an ongoing California saga. At the center of the saga is Marvin Horne, a Kerman, Calif., grower-shipper who, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, failed to abide by rules of the federal marketing order for raisins in 2002 through 2004. A federal judge fined Horne and his family $1 million in December.

Garabedian was ousted from the Raisin Administrative Committee, which oversees the federal marketing order, after it was learned he had delivered four tons of monukka raisins to Horne in 2001. The Raisin Bargaining Committee negotiates for growers of thompson seedless and zante currant raisins but not monukka, Garabedian said in his suit.

Garabedian names Glenn Goto, chief executive officer of the Raisin Bargaining Association and its president, Monte Schutz, as the persons who made statements that he claimed defamed him.

Horne and several other growers filed a federal lawsuit in 2006 asking that the court rule the reserve portion of the federal marketing order to be unconstitutional.