Saturday, March 12, 2011

It takes two to tango...

SweeTango court battle to go ahead

Mediation fell through in the battle by apple growers 
over an orchard's exclusive deal with the U.

After a court-mandated mediation failed to produce a settlement, a battle will continue between a coalition of apple growers who sued the University of Minnesota and the orchard that got an exclusive deal to sell its SweeTango apple.
The case will now move to the next stage of litigation, according to a statement from Tim Byrne, vice president of sales at Pepin Heights Orchard of Lake City, Minn., which has the deal with the U to sell the popular apple.
Last month, Hennepin County District Judge Lloyd Zimmerman dismissed most claims in the lawsuit filed last summer by 24 plaintiffs, including orchards, individual growers and a production facility, and gave both sides a 60-day window for mediation.
The suit claimed that the agreement between the university and Pepin Heights Orchard concerning the SweeTango variety, which the university developed by crossing a Honeycrisp and a Zestar, hurt other orchards by limiting the number of trees they could grow and restricting them to selling the SweeTango to consumers or individual stores rather than through wholesalers.
Zimmerman left in place only one claim: the plaintiffs' allegation that they were denied procedural due process.
Lisa Lamm Bachman, the lawyer for the growers, could not be reached for comment. In a statement, Byrne wrote that Pepin Heights' goal is to maintain the highest standards of quality in bringing the SweeTango to market, "and we've been confident all along that we stand on firm legal ground in doing so."
The University of Minnesota is acting in a pig-headed fashion to not settle with Minnesota growers. The apple market - both growing and consuming - is largely out of state.  To the average Minnesotan this behavior looks like greed and stupidity.  Encourage business by squeezing out the small orchards?


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