Trucking Company Claims Del Monte Discriminated Against it in Bidding Choices

Curtis Lawrence, owner and CEO of Skyward Transportation Inc., claimed in a complaint filed on Monday in the Southern District of Texas that, although he had the lowest bid, his company was not chosen by Fresh Del Monte Produce, Inc. to deliver its goods. Lawrence was reportedly the only African American bidder, and he claimed this was a cause of his bids not being chosen for the jobs. 

Del Monte reportedly contracted with the plaintiff to transport products and other commodities within Texas, but discriminated against the plaintiff and breached its contract with him by not giving him routes, causing damages including loss of income. Lawrence reported that he, as a qualified trucking transporter with at least 30 tractors or trailers, bid on 14 routes the defendant opened for public bids but was not granted 13 of the routes although he had the lowest bid on each of the denied routes. 

The plaintiff explained that he was the only African American owned or operated entity involved in the bidding. According to the complaint, 13 routes where the plaintiff gave a lower bid were granted to other businesses that had equal or lower qualifications, despite their higher bids.  Lawrence alleged that the route he was given “had the most economically disadvantageous logistics” of the 14 he placed a bid on. 

Further, the plaintiff alleged that Del Monte “compound(ed) the discrimination, on multiple occasions” by asking Lawrence to help in deficiencies on the routes he was not granted. The plaintiff reportedly obliged and gave aid, but was paid a lower amount, matching his unaccepted lower bid, than the company which received the bid for the same work. 

The plaintiff also claimed that on one route, he was prohibited from accessing Del Monte’s loading dock to pick up bananas for delivery, preventing him from fulfilling a contract, as well as causing a loss in profits and causing the company he was supposed to deliver to pay a higher rate. 

Causes of action against Del Monte cited in the complaint include breaches of federal race discrimination laws, retaliation under federal laws, tortious interference under Texas state law, and breach of contract under Texas law. 

The plaintiff, represented by Bagneris, Pieksen & Associates, asked the court to award damages based on his lost income and the costs of the legal action.