Tyson Fresh Meats wins judgment in Idaho

A bankruptcy judge rules that Hollifield Ranches breached a cattle-feeding contract.

krodine@idahostatesman.comNovember 29, 2013 

Idaho company Hollifield Ranches breached its cattle-feeding contract with Tyson Fresh Meats and must pay Tyson nearly $1 million as part of Hollifield’s plan for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The judgment, which is expected to climb to more than $1 million once attorney fees and costs are added, is part of Hollifield Ranches’ plan for Chapter 11.

Hollifield, based in Hansen near Twin Falls, filed an appeal in Boise’s U.S. District Court this week. But unless that court issues a stay, the company will be required to begin making payments to Tyson Fresh Meats while the appeal is pending, said Tyson’s attorney, Matt Christensen of Angstman, Johnson and Associates, Boise.

Plans call for Hollifield to pay the $958,442 judgment in six payments over three years, starting this December, Christensen said.

It’s an unusually big judgment for breach of a relatively short-lived contract, he said.

Tyson’s contract with Double H Cattle Co., now part of Hollifield, called for the company to find and fatten up cattle for Tyson, then deliver them to Tyson’s plant in Pasco, Wash., for slaughter. The agreement began in June 2010 and was profitable for a time, but cattle prices fell and Hollifield said it lost money, according to court documents.

Tyson Fresh Meats, a South Dakota-based subsidiary of Tyson Foods, filed its claim in March 2012. Hollifield quickly filed a counterclaim seeking $1.2 million from Tyson, but the amount of damages the company sought changed several times, according to the judgment.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jim Pappas rejected the counterclaim, which contends that Tyson failed to take adequate steps to protect Hollifield from market risks.

In his Nov. 7 judgment, Pappas ruled that Hollifield broke the contract and “did not prove that Tyson failed to employ reasonable and customary risk management practices.”

Hollifield filed for Chapter 11 protection in late December 2010.

Kristin Rodine: 377-6447

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