Turkey Firms Say Feed Lies Gobbled Profits

HURON, S.D. (CN) – A turkey feed provider knowingly misidentified its product as “antibiotic free,” when in fact it was not, costing three turkey meat producers hundreds of thousands of dollars, the aggrieved companies claim in a lawsuit.
     The defendants in the case are McFleeg of South Dakota and its parent company, McFleeg Inc.
     The plaintiffs include Dakota Turkey Growers, who intended to sell “antibiotic free” turkey meat, as well as the Maple River Hutterian Brethren Association and the Lakeview Hutterian Brethren Inc., who raised the turkeys prior to slaughter.
     In their complaint filed in the Beadle County circuit court, the plaintiffs say they depended on a 2011 letter from McFleeg claiming the feed “was certified to be antibiotic free.”
     Based on those assurances, Maple River and the Lakeview Hutterian Brethren purchased the feed for turkeys they would raise for Dakota Turkey Growers, the complaint says.
     Only after the turkey had already consumed a steady diet of the feed did plaintiffs discover it was not antibiotic free. Because of this, “DTG was compelled to sell the turkey meat at a lower price,” the lawsuit says.
     Plaintiffs say defendants knew the feed was meant for antibiotic-free meat, and that “Plaintiffs were relying on Defendants’ skill or judgment to select, furnish, and provide feed free of antibiotics.”
     According to the complaint, plaintiffs slaughtered the turkeys early to mitigate the damage, which resulted in smaller birds and lost profits.
     A total of 131,630 pounds of meat had to be sold at the lower price, the lawsuit says.
     Plaintiffs say their efforts to resolve the issue out of court, which included corresponding with defendants’ attorney, were unsuccessful.
     “Defendants … had a duty to investigate and assist Lakeview, Maple River and DTG in mitigating their losses,” the complaint states. Yet, they “failed to investigate the sources of the antibiotic, thus placing the burden on plaintiffs,” the lawsuit says.
     Plaintiffs are seeking damages in excess of $780,000 suing on claims of breach of contract, breach of express and implied warranties, breach of good faith and fair dealing, and negligence.
     They are represented by Julie Dvorak of Siegel, Barnett & Schultz LLP of Aberdeen, S.D.
     Attorneys for both sides in the dispute declined to comment when contacted by Courthouse News.

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