Two Execs Not Liable for Commodities Violations

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The D.C. Circuit gave a reprieve to two Fresh America executives found to be “reasonably connected” to the corporation’s failure to pay produce sellers.




     The three-judge panel reversed a 2007 ruling that found Fresh America CFO Cheryl Taylor and executive vice president Steven Finberg were connected to the corporation’s Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act violations. The ruling prevented Finberg and Taylor from working in agriculture commodities for at least one year.
     An administrative law judge affirmed the 2007 ruling two years later, stating that Taylor and Finberg were more than nominal officers and that the company was not an alter ego for board chairman Arthur Hollingsworth.
     The federal appeals panel voted 2-1 to reject the lower court’s argument on Jan. 7.
     “Both Taylor and Finberg attended most of the company’s board meetings, but they were not members of the board,” Senior Circuit Judge Edwards wrote for the court’s majority opinion. “And even though they carried ‘officer’ titles at Fresh America, neither Taylor nor Finberg had any measurable power or authority in board deliberations.”
     In a dissenting opinion, Judge Janice Rogers Brown said “the court fails to defer to the judicial officer’s legitimate focus on Taylor and Finberg’s actual knowledge of their company’s violations.”
     Taylor and Finberg were represented on appeal by Stephen McCarron.

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