Firm News

Farm Supplier Wins Breach-of-Contract Dispute

Article originally published in South Carolina Lawyers Weekly:

Verdict Report

Brief statement of claim: Plaintiff, a farm and chemical supplier, alleged that he entered into a consignment and sales contract with defendants whereby defendants agreed to accept and sell plaintiff’s product and then repay plaintiff for the portion sold. The plaintiff claimed that the defendants failed to pay plaintiff for product received and sold. The plaintiff sued to collect the amounts he claimed the defendants owed pursuant to the consignment and sales agreement, a promissory note as well as a guaranty signed by the individual defendant.

The defendants asserted numerous counterclaims. According to the plaintiff, only the counterclaims of civil conspiracy, breach of contract and breach of contract accompanied by fraud were presented to the jury. The plaintiff said that the defendants asserted essentially two allegations: that plaintiff failed to pay proper commissions to defendants and that plaintiff misrepresented to defendants that it intended to purchase defendants’ business for $750,000.

Principal injuries (in order of severity): Plaintiff asserted breach of contract for the consignment and sales agreement, the promissory note and the guaranty against defendants in the amount of $889,081.

Special damages: Post-trial attorney fees awarded in the amount of $300,000

Tried or settled: Tried, ending with a jury verdict for the plaintiff after a week. A post-trial agreement as to the amount of attorney fees is to be awarded.

County where tried or settled: U.S. District Court, Florence Division, Florence County

Case name and number: Helena Chemical Company, as servicing agent for Helena Funding Corporation and Helena Services Corporation v. Billy W. Huggins and Huggins Farm Services, Inc., civil action No. 4:06-CV-2583-RBH

Date concluded: Jury rendered a verdict for the plaintiff on Feb. 17, 2009. The court awarded attorney fees on May 18, 2009.

Name of judge: Hon. R. Bryan Harwell

Amount: $1,189,081

Insurance carrier: n/a

Expert witnesses and areas of expertise: Mark Hobbs, CPA, testified for plaintiff regarding defendants’ alleged damages concerning inventory and accounts receivable issues and a valuation of defendants’ business.

Attorneys for plaintiff: Thornwell F. Sowell, Robert E. Tyson Jr. and Amy L.B. Hill, all of Sowell Gray Stepp & Laffitte, Columbia

Submitted by: Amy L. B. Hill