Wyman’s files suit over blueberry contamination claim

Tim Cox | BDN
Posted Dec. 24, 2013, at 1:34 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — One of Maine’s leading wild blueberry processing companies has filed a federal lawsuit contending its insurance company failed to pay all costs related to a claim for accidental product contamination.

In its lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court on Dec. 20, Milbridge-based Jasper Wyman & Son referred to a loss caused by a “fine metal dust,” which contaminated blueberry product shipments. Some contaminated blueberries were used in customers’ products, according to the lawsuit.

The suit offered no further details about the contamination or whether anyone was injured. Officials from Wyman’s could not be reached for comment this week.

Wyman’s supplies wild blueberries and other fruit to grocery manufacturers and also produces and distributes frozen wild blueberries and other fruit products marketed under the Wyman’s of Maine brand name.

Wyman’s had a policy with Houston Casualty Co. of Texas to protect it against product tampering and accidental product contamination. Wyman’s, which has a processing plant in Cherryfield and other facilities in Washington County but is headquartered in Massachusetts, notified Houston Casualty of the loss in January 2012. However, the lawsuit alleges that Houston Casualty has failed to fully indemnify Wyman’s for the loss as required by the provisions of the insurance policy. Wyman’s seeks a jury trial on its lawsuit claims.

The insurance company has delayed payment of the claim, “misrepresented or otherwise misconstrued” the terms of the policy, and failed to fully indemnify Wyman’s for losses that are covered under the policy, according to Wyman’s.

Houston Casualty has acknowledged that some of the claim is covered under the policy, but it has continued to challenge more than $300,000 in losses that Wyman contends are covered, according to the lawsuit. The suit did not mention how much, if any, of the claim has been paid.

The insurance company also breached its contract and has violated Maine’s Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act, Wyman’s contends.

Wyman’s asked the court to rule that Houston Casualty is obligated to pay all outstanding amounts of the claim. It also seeks damages including but not limited to the amount of the unpaid claim as well as interest, legal fees and costs.

Houston Casualty did not respond to several voice mail messages left at its office this week seeking additional information and comment on the lawsuit.

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