Bell Aquaculture sued for allegedly missing feed ingredient payments

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

A lawsuit has been brought against Bell Aquaculture for its alleged failure to pay for deliveries of aquaculture feed ingredients.

The lawsuit was filed by Nutra-Blend LLC, a company owned by Purina Animal Nutrition, in December in the US District Court for the Northern District of Indiana Fort Wayne Division.

The Missouri-based vitamin, trace mineral and premix company is seeking more than $84,000 in damages along with prejudgment interest, attorney fees costs and disbursements and any other relief that the court thinks fair, said company lawyers in the complaint. It also requested a jury trial.  

Lawsuit details

“During 2014 and 2015, Bell ordered and received certain nutrition products from Nutra-Blend (“the products”) on credit,”​ said Nutra-Blend lawyers. The company said that the products were delivered and fed to fish at Bell’s aquaculture facility, they added.

“Nutra-Blend sent Bell invoices and account statements itemizing the amounts due under Bill’s [sic] account,” ​they said. “Bell never made any objection to any of Nutra-Blend’s invoices or account statements.”

But Bell also never paid for the products, they said.

“The unpaid principal balance due to Nutra-lend for the products is $84,323.94,” ​they said. Despite receiving requests for payment, Bell has ‘refused’ to pay for the items, they added.

Invoices that appear to be from Nutra-Blend to Bell Aquaculture were submitted as exhibits with the complaint. They show charges for products including blood meal, Virginia Cobia Farms vitamin pmx and LSI mineral premix and run from August 2014 through January 2015.

Bell Aquaculture responded to the complaint at the end of last month with an answer and affirmative defense. It denied the counts brought against it for not paying for the goods, breach of contract and account stated, said company lawyers.

In its response, the Indiana-based company denied knowledge of Nutra-Blend’s structure and location, said company lawyers. The company also said it “denies the allegations” ​in regards to having not paid for the feed additives.

Bell did admit, in one section of its response, that it “ordered and received products from Nutra-Blend on credit,”​ said company lawyers, and that the products were delivered.

But, the company added that “Bell lacks sufficient information or knowledge to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations” ​in regards to the feed ingredients being used, they said.

The company also admitted it was sent invoices and account statements, they said. But, it denied the allegation that it had not objected to any of the invoices or account statements.

Bell also responded by saying that the complaint is “barred for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted,”​ said company lawyers in the response.

They added that the complaint also may be barred by the equitable doctrines of larches, waiver and/or estoppel, the doctrine of unclean hands, or failure to preform or satisfy conditions precedent.

“In the event that Nutra-Blend received payment and money from sources other than Bell to compensate Nutra-Blend for the claims alleged herein, Bell reserves the right to introduce evidence of such collateral source payments made to or on behalf of Nutra-Blend in order to preclude Nutra-Blend from making a double recovery,”​ they said.

Instead, the company asked that Nutra-Blend receive nothing and that Bell be given “relief and judgement against Nutra-Blend.”

Next steps  

The parties involved in the ongoing lawsuit met for a planning meeting at the end of January, said court officials in case documents.

Parties have agreed to exchange certain information by mid-February and are following a set plan for discovery, they said. Discovery is set to be completed by mid-June and additional parties or amended pleadings by mid-March.

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