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Supplier drops lawsuit against City Market

After commencing a legal action against Bahamas Supermarkets Limited (BSL) over funds allegedly owed to it, Kansas Packing LLC says payment has been received in full and the lawsuit is being dropped.

Guardian Business reported on November 4 that the New Jersey-based pork and beef supplier had filed an action against BSL in the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, Miami Division on November 2.  It was suing BSL, the parent company of the City Market chain, over $81,598 allegedly owed to it by BSL, plus interest.

“Payment was received in full,” owner of Kansas Packing Bob McErlean told Guardian Business yesterday.   “We are dropping the lawsuit.”

Not only is McErlean discontinuing legal action, but his latest interactions with BSL may have convinced him to give that relationship another chance.  He has been communicating with BSL director Nikki Finlayson-Boeuf, who is currently overseeing operations at the chain’s Seagrapes Shopping Centre location.

“She had such proper etiquette.  She was polite, attentive, inquisitive, and responsive – seeking knowledge, help and guidance.  She seemed incredibly professional,” McErlean told Guardian Business.  “We’re looking to do business going forward.”

Finlayson-Boeuf spoke with Guardian Business yesterday and said the company is hoping to rebuild relationships with many of its other vendors as well.

“It was a pleasure to have spoken to [McErlean],” she said.  “We’re delighted to hear that he’s looking forward to doing business with us, and we are working to have this kind of relationship with all of our vendors.

“The objective is to, as quickly as feasible, take care of each of those debts and move forward with vendors who have been very good to us in the past.

“We’re getting these relationships straight.”

The balance Kansas Packing was suing over stemmed from an initial $121K debt that alleged had accumulated and was owed to Kansas Packing since May this year.  A “gentleman’s agreement” had been reached for BSL to pay off the balance in $20,000 weekly installments, according to McErlean.   He alleged that only two of the payments had been made since.

According to the court filing documents, a demand letter was sent to BSL on August 31 for the $81,598 plus interest that was owed. Invoices to BSL were included in the filing.

Kansas Packing’s attorney, Douglas Broeker, told Guardian Business in an earlier interview that the action had been commenced in Miami because that is where the goods the company was alleging were never fully paid for had been shipped from.

Locally, City Market has had challenges with some of its wholesaler relationships as well.  In September of this year, BSL’s president Mark Finlayson confirmed that the company had received a writ from one of them and that he expected another in short order.  Local news media also reported that many wholesalers had stopped extending credit terms to the company.

BSL and members of the Bahamas Wholesale Association reached an agreement in December 2010 under which BSL paid half of its liabilities to those wholesalers, Finlayson told Guardian Business in an earlier interview.

He said that under that agreement, the wholesalers were required to extend five-week credit terms to the company.  He alleged those terms were never extended and said at the time that the courts would have to decide who was in fact in breech of contract.

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