Just one day after closing arguments wrapped up, the verdict is in on the Assemi Brothers case against Wonderful Pistachios and Almonds.
The jury ruled largely in favor of the Assemis, awarding them tens of millions of dollars in damages.
The big picture: Out of the seven claims made in the case, the jury sided with the Assemis on three of them.
- The jury ruled that Wonderful breached its contract with the Assemis by instructing the Assemi Co-Op Growers to check the unprocessed poll box on the pool election forms. For that claim, the jury awarded the Assemis with nearly $27 million in damages. That covers the grower bonus that the Assemis did not receive from Wonderful for the 2018 crop of pistachios that was delivered.
- Further, the jury awarded the Assemis $11.8 million, finding that Wonderful Growers Cooperative breached its duty to its members by engaging in conduct that was to the detriment of the Assemis.
- Much of the trial centered on an alleged “oral handshake agreement” that Wonderful owner Steward Resnick made with Farid Assemi. Under that deal, the Assemis would receive so-called “super trees” – modified trees that were produced to bear more pistachios than normal trees – in exchange for another 10-year commitment.
- But without any written evidence of such an agreement, the jury ruled against Wonderful’s claim that the Assemi’s breached an oral agreement.
The other side: While Thursday’s verdict was a big win for the Assemis, the jury did side with Wonderful on some claims.
- The jury ruled that the Assemis breached their contract with Wonderful for not delivering the 2019 pistachio crop and awarded nearly $11.4 million in damages to Wonderful.
- The jury also awarded $583,024 in damages to Wonderful for a breach of contract against Sageberry Farms for not delivering the 2019 crop.
- Throughout the trial the Assemis argued that Wonderful breached its contract with the family for not providing adequate assurance that the grower bonus would be distributed. The jury sided with Wonderful in that claim but did not award any damages.
What they’re saying: “We are pleased the jury recognized that the Assemis breached their grower contracts with Wonderful and by the jury’s decision to award Wonderful nearly $12 million in damages,” The Wonderful Company said in a statement. “We believe the decisions they reached on three other co-op claims, however, are flawed and not supported by the evidence presented. Wonderful acted in good faith at all times, as has been its practice throughout its decades in business, and has always met its obligations with its growers. We intend to appeal.”