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Ocean Spray Lawsuit Roundup

Here is a round-up of our coverage of the issues raised by the lawsuit between Jim and Theresa Nolan, their company, The Nolan Network and Ocean Spray:

Pundit Sister publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS, published Special Report: Ocean Spray Sued By Longtime Associates, which provided an overview of the complaint filed by the Nolans.

We then ran Ocean Spray Trial Will Shed Light On Business Practices which reviewed the issues from a business and ethical, rather than a legal, perspective.

Will Retailers Wait For A Trial To Act On Ocean Spray Controversy? pointed out that retailers have not traditionally required legal judgments to seek compensation when retailers felt they had been wronged.

We then raised the possibility that, in addition to the Robinson-Patman Act violations alleged in the complaint, the way cranberry growers at Ocean spray were paid May have caused Ocean Spray to violate the PACA. The piece was called Ocean Spray Case Delves Into Robinson-Patman and PACA Violations.

Pundit’s Mailbag — Robinson-Patman Attorney Weighs In On Ocean Spray was the title we gave to a piece built around a letter we received from a Robinson-Patman attorney who was not impressed with Ocean Spray’s defense, at least in regard to its actions with Costco.

Most recently Ocean Spray’s Special Treatment of HEB reviewed some of the evidence supporting the assertion that Ocean Spray, favoring H.E. Butt over Wal-Mart, Safeway, Kroger and others, gave H.E. Butt the favorable pricing available for full trailerload trucking, even though it only received cranberries in less-than-trailerload shipments.

Ocean Spray Headache Continues reviewed our coverage up to date and pointed out that the controversy was unlikely to go away even if the lawsuit was resolved.

Ocean Spray May Have More To Lose Than Lawsuit — highlighted how The Chicago Tribune dealt with the issue and pointed out that what the produce industry May want to know has little to do with the legal questions at stake.

Jim Nolan, A Man Of Honor And Integrity, Passes Away announced the passing of Jim Nolan, a man iconic to the fresh cranberry industry, now denied his day in court in his lawsuit against Ocean Spray, which we’ve written extensively about here.

Theresa Nolan To Receive The Second Annual EPC Woman Of Distinction Award reports how last year, the Eastern Produce Council established a Women’s Leadership Committee, and in conjunction with that we established a Women’s Leadership Reception at The New York Produce Show and Conference. PRODUCE BUSINESS magazine also commenced an annual tradition of presenting an award to a woman whose life story inspires others and leads to a more successful industry. This year’s honoree has a special connection to The New York Produce Show and Conference. 12/1/2014

Ocean Spray Accused Of False Labeling And Marketing Of Dried Cranberries discusses how in the wake of the battle that Jim and Theresa Nolan fought against Ocean Spray, there was the possibility that Ocean Spray might reflect and decide to conduct business differently. Unfortunately, now there are new allegations that Ocean Spray has elected to conduct business in a disingenuous manner. Consumers are being promoted a “dried cranberry” and getting something with so little cranberry and so much sugar that it is not clear any of the health claims made for dried cranberries apply. 7/27/2010

Another Chapter Closes For The Nolan’s And Ocean Spray While A Scholarship Fund Opens Doors For Others mentions ho we have extensively chronicled the legal dispute, the issues of business ethics at stake and the moral courage shown by Jim and Theresa Nolan, as they and their company, The Nolan Network, sought justice in the courts in their dispute with Ocean Spray. After a defeat in the courts, Ocean Spray decided it wanted to settle and a settlement was reached. And Although Jim is gone, he will not be forgotten, as his wife Theresa is "establishing a charitable trust to fund a scholarship in Jim’s name so this experience will have a lasting meaning that benefits others." 3/5/2010

Pundit’s Mailbag — Nolan Network And Ocean Spray Status finds that many both in and out of the produce trade want to keep up to date on the latest from the case of Jim and Theresa Nolan and their company, The Nolan Network, against Ocean Spray. Theodore L. Banks, Counsel with Schoeman, Updike, Kaufman & Scharf, wrote to us inquiring if we had heard any new developments. The best summation of the story to date was written by Bill Martin and ran in Pundit sister publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS, the piece is titled, “Are Any Lessons Learned From Ocean Spray Trial?” 1/18/2010

Nolans Awarded Bonus Damages In Ocean Spray Case our extensive coverage of the dispute between Jim Nolan, Theresa Nolan and their company, The Nolan Network, with Ocean Spray has now reached a new point. As we explained here, a jury had awarded the Nolans damages of one million dollars. Now, Judge Robert C. Rufo has determined that the judgment should be doubled to $2 million. In addition, interest on the judgment must be paid from December 16, 2003, and Ocean Spray must also pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees. Although it is likely Ocean Spray will appeal, it is hard to imagine a more sweeping statement as to the justice of the claims presented by the Nolans. 7/7/2009

Legal Profession Starting To Look Closer At Ocean Spray in light of the award of $2 million to Theresa Nolan and their company, The Nolan Network, one of the more intriguing questions has been whether USDA will elect to start an investigation or, in fact, if it has already started such an investigation. We’ve been arguing that there is a prima facie case for a violation of the PACA laws. Some members of the legal community are starting to pick up on our assessment. Richard Goldfarb, a Harvard attorney wrote a piece entitled "Nolan v. Ocean Spray Verdict: The PACA Angle" that zooms in on the legal point precisely: If Ocean Spray received claims for “poor quality” and it knew or should have known that these claims were false; its allowing of the claims to “settle” another unrelated matter could have easily resulted in growers receiving incorrect accountings. 7/7/2009

Moral Lessons From The Nolan/Ocean Spray Trial recalls that since the verdict in the Ocean Spray vs. Jim and Theresa Nolan and The Nolan Network matter, we have written several pieces and will doubtless have many more through post-trial motions and appeals. We received the following letter from Harris Cutler, President of the Race-West Company and thought it would be a fitting way to tie together our coverage at this point by reminding us all that capitalism and its public acceptance depends crucially on codes of behavior with deep cultural roots. 6/23/2009

Another Juror Weighs In On Nolan Victory Over Ocean Spray shares how, as part of our coverage of the lawsuit between The Nolan Network, and Ocean Spray, we’ve run many pieces. Most recently, they have dealt with the results and feedback after the trial. In the final of these pieces, we had received a note from one of the jurors, whose name we withheld. Today we received a note from a second juror. We think it is interesting that in the world we live in now, we expect jurors to be “Googling” the cases they were on and, sometimes, participating in the public discussion of the case and the issues it represents. It has always seemed to us that Ocean Spray’s decision to wage this battle was an emotional decision more than a rational business assessment. We suspect there is a lesson in this matter for many companies. 6/16/2009

Sharing The Joy Of The Nolan Victory… Plus A Note From One Of The Jurors! our recent pieces on the dispute involving both Jim and Theresa Nolan and their company, The Nolan Network, with Ocean Spray continue to bring forth testimonials and commentary. Here we share notes from Jeff Shilling of RLB Food Distributors and Veronica Kraushaar of VIVA Marketing Strategies, as well as from one of the trial jurors. We find it interesting that this case has attracted so much interest. We wrote recently that the nature of the business has been shifting and, instead of rewarding good work, it was increasingly rewarding a kind of craftiness at manipulation of retail rules. The yeoman farmer, who raises good fruit from the earth, seems not as likely to win as the wheeler-dealer who knows how to work the system. Perhaps the outcry of support for the Nolans is another way of saying we need less cleverness in our industry and in our lives. 6/4/2009

Nolan Triumph Example Of ‘Standing Up For What’s Right In Face Of Overwhelming Might’ mentions we did a SPECIAL ALERT over the weekend to let the industry know that a momentous, some would even say miraculous, event occurred. The title of the piece spoke clearly: Nolans Victorious In Lawsuit vs. Ocean Spray: This One’s For You, Jim. The piece brought forth many short notes. Here is a selection of them, including a note from Theresa herself. In a world where it is easy to bend, Theresa and Jim stood square. In a world where “going along” is the typical way, you and Jim chose to speak clearly. In a world where short-term thinking and situational ethics seem to predominate, you and Jim offered us all a glimpse down a different path. 6/2/2009

SPECIAL ALERT: Nolans Victorious In Lawsuit vs. Ocean Spray: This One’s For You, Jim recalls how we’ve provided analysis of the lawsuit between Jim & Theresa Nolan, their company, The Nolan Network, and Ocean Spray. If you haven’t seen it, do read the original story published in Pundit sister publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS which provides an overview of the dispute. After three hours of deliberation a jury found Ocean Spray liable and, as a result of its unfair and deceptive business practices, declared damages equal to $1,000,000. With a court decision rendered, the public finding of a jury that Ocean Spray engaged in such behavior, we can expect the legal departments at Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Safeway and others to spring into action. It is better to win than to lose and when the dispute centers on matters of personal integrity, the victory is sweeter still. Yet this vindication can never be anything but bittersweet. What can it profit a person to win a lawsuit and lose the one they love? 5/30/2009

Jim Nolan, A Man Of Honor And Integrity, Passes Away announced the passing of Jim Nolan, a man iconic to the fresh cranberry industry, now denied his day in court in his lawsuit against Ocean Spray, which we’ve written extensively about here. 3/4/2008

Ocean Spray Loses Its Biggest Fresh Cranberry Shipper the cranberry industry has been anything but quiet; in fact, the fresh cranberry business has experienced what can only be described as an earthquake. Habelman Brothers Company, Ocean Spray’s largest fresh cranberry grower, has left the co-op and is striking out on its own. Losing almost half of its fresh supply, in one fell swoop, is certainly no cause for rejoicing at Ocean Spray headquarters. 2/12/2008

Pundit’s Mailbag — Protecting Ocean Spray’s Attorney/Client Privileges our recent piece entitled Ocean Spray May Have More To Lose Than Lawsuit, concluded with a suggestion that it might behoove Ocean Spray to make public a special report it had commissioned to investigate the dispute in question. We received a letter from Craig Stokes of Santos Stokes, LLP who advises against it. Craig is, of course, correct, and there are risks for Ocean Spray in releasing the report. Yet we would contend that Ocean Spray’s primary risk in this litigation is not to the plaintiffs. We see far bigger liabilities in payments likely to be demanded by Ocean Spray’s retail accounts. 6/12/2007


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