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C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., A Corporation, Et v. Auster Acquisitions

July 26, 2011

C.H. ROBINSON WORLDWIDE, INC., A CORPORATION, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
AUSTER ACQUISITIONS, LLC, D/B/A THE AUSTER COMPANY, INC., A CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This case comes before the Court after the filing of numerous claims, objections, and motions to determine the validity of claims. The claims, objections, and motions to determine validity are granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

On January 7, 2011, Plaintiff C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. ("C.H. Robinson") filed a complaint against Defendants Auster Acquisitions, LLC d/b/a The Auster Company, Inc. ("Auster"), Tom Bastounes, Paul Duggan ("Duggan"), and The Estate of Dennis F. Nardoni, individually and in their corporate capacities, and Standard Bank and Trust Co. ("Standard Bank"), seeking enforcement of a trust pursuant to the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act ("PACA"), 7 U.S.C. § 499(c)(4). Since a similar complaint was later filed by Jack Tuchten Wholesale Produce, Inc. ("Jack Tuchten"), on March 18, 2011, this Court consolidated the two cases.

On January 27, 2011, this Court entered a Consent Order for Appointment of Receiver and for Establishing PACA Trust Claims Procedure (the "Procedures Order"). See Dkt. No. 51. In the Procedures Order, this Court appointed a receiver ("Receiver") to collect Auster's current receivables, auction equipment and vehicles, sell inventory, and prevent further dissipation of PACA Trust Assets. The Procedures Order also set forth the requirements for creditors to claim trust rights under PACA and against Auster. Specifically, the Procedures Order required purported PACA trust claimants, on or before March 28, 2011, to: (1) file a verified PACA proof of claim; (2) file a Complaint in Intervention; and (3) serve the proof of claim, Complaint in Intervention, and supporting documentation on the parties in this case. The Procedures Order warned that untimely claims would be forever barred.

On April 4, 2011, this Court entered an order resetting the schedule for the PACA Trust Claims Procedure and requiring those served with Standard Bank's discovery to respond by April 13, 2011 (the "Rescheduling Order"). See Dkt. No. 186. The Rescheduling Order reset the deadlines as follows:

DEADLINE DATE

Deadline to Issue Notice of Deadlines February 21, 2011 Deadline to File PACA Proof of Claim March 28, 2011 and Complaint in Intervention Deadline to Respond to Discovery April 13, 2011 Served by Standard Bank Deadline to File Objections to Claims May 4, 2011 Deadline to File Responses to May 18, 2011 Objections Deadline to File Motion to Determine June 1, 2011 Validity of Claim Deadline to File PACA Trust Chart June 15, 2011 Deadline to File Objections to PACA June 22, 2011 Trust Chart Deadline for Interim Distribution June 29, 2011 Numerous parties filed objections to claims and the PACA Trust Chart and motions to determine the validity of claims. This Court addresses all outstanding objections below.

LEGAL STANDARD

PACA mandates that perishable agricultural commodities received by a merchant, dealer, or broker, as well as the sales proceeds from such commodities, are held in trust for the benefit of unpaid suppliers until full payment has been made.

7 U.S.C. § 499e(c)(2). The trust is automatically created when the merchant, dealer, or broker accepts the goods as long as the supplier complies with certain notice requirements. Patterson Frozen Foods, Inc. v. Crown Foods Int'l, Inc., 307 F.3d 666, 669 (7th Cir. 2002).

DISCUSSION

This Court confirms the validity of all claims not addressed in this Opinion, as described in the "amount deemed valid" column of the PACA Trust Chart filed by the ...


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