Farm Irrigation Contract Dispute Hits Federal Court

On Monday, Walt Goodman Farms, Inc. filed a lawsuit in the Western District of Tennessee against Hogan Farms, LLC and Charles Phillip Higdon alleging unjust enrichment, fraud, and intentional interference with a business relationship.

According to the complaint, Walt Goodman Farms is a Kentucky corporation engaged in farming. Further, the complaint states Hogan Farms, LLC is a Tennessee limited liability company and the owner of two farms in Obion County, Tennessee which it rented to Walt Goodman Farms through an oral agreement. The complaint states that, under the rental agreement, one-third of all crop revenue is paid to Hogan Farms with the remaining two-thirds going to Walt Goodman Farms. 

Goodman Farms alleges that in 2017, Hogan Farms and Walt Goodman Farms entered into a Memorandum of Understanding stating that the parties will place two irrigation systems on the Obion County farms that Hogan Farms rented to Walt Goodman Farms. The Memorandum of Understanding states the cost of the irrigation systems would be allocated to the farms in the same manner as the crop revenue on the farms and that if Goodman Farms stops farming the land before all the payments for the irrigation system are made, they will no longer be obligated to make the remaining payments. 

According to the plaintiff, as of March 27, 2021, Goodman Farms made four payments totalling $125,419.17 for the irrigation systems and incurred additional expenses in connection to the systems of about $125,000. The complaint purports that on March 27, 2021, Goodman Farms received a letter from Hogan Farms stating it was no longer allowed to farm from the Obion County farms. 

Goodman Farms argues the March 27 letter was a result of intentional interference with Goodman Farms’ and Hogan Farms’ business relationship by defendant Charles Phillip Higdon. According to the complaint, Higdon is an employee of Nutrien Ag Solutions and in 2017 he began inserting himself in the farming operation on behalf of Hogan Farms, LLC without legal authority to do so. The plaintiff states Higdon would constantly interfere and criticize Walt Goodman Farms’ farming practices including criticism for not using seeds marketed by his employer. Further, Walt Goodman Farms alleges that Higdon provided it with false information regarding the seed marketed by his employer resulting in actual damages of approximately $250,000 due to his misrepresentation. 

Additionally, Walt Goodman Farms argues that Higdon intentionally damaged its business relationship with Hogan Farms and his constant interference and criticism eventually deteriorated their relationship entirely.

Subsequently, Walt Goodman Farms filed this pending lawsuit alleging unjust enrichment by Hogan Farms from Goodman Farms’ payments on the irrigation systems, intentional interference with a business relationship by Higdon and fraud for Higdon’s misrepresentations about the seeds marketed by his employer. For these allegations, the plaintiff seeks $250,000 in damages for Hogan Farms’ unjust enrichment, an award of $18,071,060.40 in treble damages for Higdon’s intentional interference, $250,000 in damages for fraud, attorneys fees and costs. The plaintiff is represented by Mariana Williams.