N.D. Growers Sue Railway Over Frozen Spuds

Published online: Oct 08, 2013 Rich Cholodofsky, Tribune-Review
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North Dakota potato growers are suing a Texas freight company in Westmoreland County, Pa., saying the railroad delivered spuds that were duds.

According to the lawsuit filed this month, the Associated Potato Growers Inc., an agricultural cooperative in Grand Forks, N.D., shipped 176 tons of taters to Powerhouse Produce in Youngwood, Pa., in January.

What was supposed to be fresh produce arrived as frozen spuds, according to the lawsuit.

Two loads of potatoes shipped were damaged and unmarketable because the temperatures in the shipping container operated by BNSF Railway Inc. of Fort Worth were too cool, the growers contend in the lawsuit.

The growers are seeking damages for breach of contract and negligence from the railroad.

"Pursuant to the bills of lading, each of the box cars was to maintain a temperature of 45 degrees at all times during transit. ... BNSF did not properly configure the refrigeration units in the box cars as specified in the bills of lading," according to the lawsuit.

The frozen potatoes were rejected when they were delivered to Powerhouse Produce in Youngwood, the lawsuit stated.

The potato growers had expected to earn more than 15 cents per pound. The lawsuit said the spud growers were eventually able to find a buyer to pay a reduced amount for the frozen potatoes.

In its lawsuit, Associated Potato Growers Inc. is seeking damages totaling nearly $30,000 for the profit loss.

BNSF Railway spokeswoman Roxanne Butler said company officials have not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on its allegations.