Del Monte Files Appeal in Case over Illegally Sold Pineapples

In a continuing effort to uphold a pineapple settlement agreement, appellant Del Monte International GmbH filed an initial brief on Monday in the Eleventh Circuit against Inversiones y Procesadora Tropical, S.A (INPROTSA) along with senior officers Jorge Luis Gurria Hernandez and Manuel Gurria Ordonez after the district court ruled that INPROTSA did not have to pay $39.7 million in disgorgement.

In 2001, Del Monte and INPROTSA signed a Pineapple Sales Agreement in which “Del Monte provided INPROTSA with approximately 61 million scarce and expensive ‘MD-2’ variety pineapple seeds (valued in excess of $25 million) and extensive technical expertise to transition INPROTSA’s Costa Rican pineapple plantation from an obsolete variety to an extra sweet variety […] that is sold in supermarkets throughout the world today.” However, Del Monte alleged that INPROTSA agreed to return or destroy all “MD-2 vegetative materials” after the agreement expired in 2013, which they did not do. The appellant further claimed that INPROTSA continued to sell the MD-2 pineapples for their own benefit, “pocket[ing] $39,732,469 in ill-gotten revenues from prohibited pineapple sales.”

The Southern District of Florida held INPROTSA in contempt, but held that “it was without legal authority to award damages or disgorgement to Del Monte arising from INPROTSA’s improper sales of MD-2 pineapples after the issuance of the Final Award but before entry of the Final Judgment confirming the Award” as a “punishment” was deemed not necessary. To counter this, the appellant argued that, in a contempt proceeding for violation of an injunction, “disgorgement is a proper remedy and is considered ‘remedial in nature’ as opposed to punishment,” since they believe that this is a case of unjust enrichment.

Del Monte requested that the appeals court reverse the district court’s contempt order with instructions to enter a judgment requiring INPROTSA to disgorge $39.7 million in sales revenue collected between the date of the final judgment and September 2018 and the revenue collected between the date of the final award and the final judgment and also to hold senior officers in contempt and jointly and severally liable for the compensatory fines, damages and attorney’s fees imposed. 

Del Monte is represented by Stack Fernandez & Harris, P.A. and INPROTSA is represented by Hogan Lovells US LLP