Case Brief – Del Monte Fresh Produce Company v. Dole Food Company, Inc. Essay Sample

Case Brief – Del Monte Fresh Produce Company v. Dole Food Company, Inc. Pages
Pages: Word count: Rewriting Possibility: % ()
  1. Fact background

Who are the parties?

The plaintiffs are Del Monte Fresh Produce Company, a Delaware corporation, and Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A., Inc., a Florida corporation (collectively referred to as “Del Monte”); each has its principal place of business in Florida.

The defendants are Dole Food Company, Inc., a Hawaii corporation, and Dole Fresh Fruit Company, a Nevada corporation (collectively referred to as “Dole”); each has its principal place of business in California.

What does plaintiff want court to do?

The plaintiffs filed a four-count complaint against the defendants:

  1. Reverse palming off in violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125, et seq.;
  2. Misappropriation of trade secrets under the Florida Trade Secret Act, Florida Statutes § 688.001 et seq.;
  3. Conversion; and
  4. Deceptive and unfair trade practices under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Florida Statutes § 501.204 et seq.

What does defendant want court to do?

The defendants seek to dismiss the complaint based on forum non conveniens and failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Alternatively, the defendants seek to transfer venue to the United States District Court for the Central District of California pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).

What is the case about?

The case is complaint for reverse palming off, misappropriation of trade secrets, conversion and deceptive and unfair trade practices under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices.

What is relevant?

Del Monte developed a special variety of pineapple in Hawaii called “M-2” and was later able to establish M-2 pineapple farms in Costa Rica. These pineapples were better than other varieties because they contain higher levels of vitamin C, they had a sweeter taste, more fiber, brighter color, milder texture and a more pleasant smell. Del Monte sold these pineapples to the United States under the name “Del Monte Gold Extra Sweet”. At that time, this brand accounted for 45% of the pineapple market in the US.

In 1991, a farm in Costa Rica called “Cabo Marzo” which was one of Dole’s pineapple suppliers was able to illegally obtain Del Monte’s M-2 variety plant material and propagate it to compete with Del Monte. Dole started selling these pineapples under the name “Dole Premium Select”.

According to Del Monte, both Cabo Marzo and Dole were aware that the M-2 variety of pineapple exclusively belonged to Del Monte. Del Monte also claims that Dole represented to the pineapple trade that it had developed the “Dole Premium Select” brand of pineapple as a “new, super sweet” variety to compete with Del Monte’s “Gold Extra Sweet” brand.

 

  1. Procedural Background
    1. Del Monte filed a four-count suit against Dole for:
  2. Reverse palming off in violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125, et seq.;
  3. Misappropriation of trade secrets under the Florida Trade Secret Act, Florida Statutes § 688.001 et seq.;
  4. Conversion; and
  5. Deceptive and unfair trade practices under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Florida Statutes § 501.204 et seq.
    1. Dole filed a motion to dismiss based on forum non conveniens and failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Alternatively, the defendants seek to transfer venue to the United States District Court for the Central District of California pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).

 

  • Issues
  1. Whether or not the case should be dismissed based on Forum Non Conveniens.
  2. Whether or not the case may be transferred to the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

  1. Holding

Broad holding

A plaintiff’s choice of forum should rarely be disturbed[1]. A two tier analysis must be made to determine whether a forum non conveniens dismissal is warranted[2]. First, the court must determine if there exists an alternative forum that is both available and adequate. Then if such forum does exist, the court then must weigh the private and public interests in adjudicating the case in the available forum.

 

Narrow holding – this particular case and facts

A dismissal on forum non conveniens is not proper because:

  1. Costa Rican courts have no jurisdiction over the subject matter because it involves claims exclusively between American parties contesting US property rights. If the court were to grant the dismissal, Del Monte would have no remedy because the Costa Rican courts have no authority to issue an injunction that would be valid in the US and in Honduras which are exactly what Del Monte is praying for. Costa Rica is an inadequate forum.
  2. Costa Rican courts have no compulsory process over witnesses and evidence found in the United States.
  3. The United States has a strong interest in resolving the dispute because both parties are American corporations, and the product involved is sold and marketed mostly in the US. The US has the most significant relationship to the issue and the parties.

The case cannot be transferred to California such transfers are allowed only to avoid unnecessary inconvenience to the parties. This determination depends on two questions:

  • Whether the action “might have been brought” in the proposed transferee court; and
  • Whether various factors are satisfied so as to determine if a transfer to a more convenient forum is justified.

On the first question, the answer would be “yes” because Dole has its principal place in California. On the second question, the court found the answer to be in the negative because Dole was not able to prove that California would be a more convenient forum considering that Florida is the midpoint between California and Costa Rica two states where some of the witnesses reside.

  1. Rationale

The general rule is that the plaintiff’s choice of forum must be respected.

As an exception, the defendant may ask the court for a dismissal or a transfer on the ground of forum non conveniens. Such motion is exactly for the purpose of making litigation more convenient for the parties. It has to be shown that the transferee forum is adequate enough to provide for a remedy and that the transfer would not lead to any unjust consequences. Any motion to transfer which will lead to inconvenience, delay or unnecessary expenses will only defeat the purpose of such transfer and it will be rejected.

  1. Concurring/ Dissenting

There were no concurring or dissenting opinions.

  • Disposition
    1. Dole’s motion to dismiss based on forum non conveniens is DENIED.
    2. Dole’s alternative motion to transfer venue is DENIED.
    3. Dole’s motion to dismiss based on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is GRANTED WITHOUT PREJUDICE as to counts I and II and DENIED as to counts III and IV. Del Monte has twenty days from the date of this order to file an amended complaint conforming with the court’s order.

 

  • Impression

This decision did not change existing case law. The court based its decision on existing case doctrines.

 

[1] See Doe v. Sun Int’l Hotels, Ltd., 20 F. Supp. 2d 1328, 1329 (S.D. Fla. 1998) (citing Gulf Oil v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508, 91 L. Ed. 1055, 67 S. Ct. 839 (1947)).

[2] See Republic of Panama v. BCCI Holdings, 119 F.3d 935, 951 (11th Cir. 1997).

Search For The related topics

  • company
  • Olivia from Bla Bla Writing

    Hi there, would you like to get such a paper? How about receiving a customized one? Check it out https://goo.gl/3EfTOL

    sample
    Haven't found the Essay You Want?
    GET YOUR CUSTOM ESSAY SAMPLE
    For Only $12.90/page