Lawsuit aims to make Texas firm pay for onions shipped from Idaho

krodine@idahostatesman.comOctober 10, 2013 

A Payette produce distributor aims to get a federal judge to do what the U.S. Department of Agriculture could not: get a Texas produce company to pay for multiple shipments of fresh onions it received totaling more than $50,000 in value.

Meanwhile, the Texas company, DeBruyn Produce, has reportedly shut down and faces several other lawsuits. DeBruyn’s website says the company is “one of the nation’s leading producers of onions.”

Central Produce Distributors of Payette sued Aug. 29 in U.S. District Court, Boise, seeking $50,592 from DeBruyn in return for five shipments of onions in October and November 2012. The USDA issued a default order against DeBruyn in May, but no payments have been made, said Stan Tharp, attorney for Central Produce.

A call to Debruyn’s La Villa, Texas, headquarters reached an answering service worker who said the business has recently closed. Tharp said he has spoken to a Florida lawyer for DeBruyn and was told the company faces other lawsuits in Texas and New Mexico, and a judge in Texas has frozen the company’s assets.

Tharp said Central Produce may join in a Texas lawsuit against DeBruyn, but could first seek a judgment from Judge Candy Dale, who has been assigned the case in Boise.

Failure to pay up after the USDA issued its default order could result in DeBruyn losing its license under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, Tharp said, but that may be a moot point since the company has apparently closed and stopped using its PACA license.

According to the lawsuit, Central Produce Distributors lived up to its end of the oral contract in satisfying all five phone orders from DeBruyn. The orders were shipped to Texas, New Jersey, Florida and Maryland.

Kristin Rodine: 377-6447

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