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"Negligence should not be rewarded with the collection of fines"

Chilean grape exporters and producers evaluate filing a lawsuit against shipping companies

Chilean grapes producers and exporters and Matias Araya, a lawyer specializing in international commercial law and partner of Araya & Co., are considering filing a class action in a US eastern coast court against the shipping companies that have transported the fruit to the United States for the losses and unjustified collections due to the delays in the fumigation of the grapes and the damages generated.

“We are evaluating what actions to take. Losses are unrelated to producers and exporters. There were major coordination and logistics mistakes that could have been avoided by reporting and resolving this in another way. Unfortunately, a very large amount of fruit was collected in ports that did not have the capacity to provide the fumigation service in time for the volume of fruit that arrived,” Araya said.

By law, grapes must be fumigated in the United States and not in Chile. “The fruits temperature must be increased by 4 to 5 degrees Celsius three to four days before arriving at the port. Once it reaches the port, the fruit is sprayed; however, this fruit had to wait a long time. As a result, an important amount of fruit was lost and there are consequences we are only starting to see now. A lot of fruit had to be thrown away. Nearly a million boxes have been lost. In addition to the above, exporters have had to pay fines for delays in the delivery of the containers on a daily basis and that has generated a complex situation," the specialist stated.

"Negligence should not be rewarded with the collection of fines that benefit the perpetrators themselves. It is a very complicated situation. We'll soon have defined our strategy and will take the corresponding legal actions. This is an initial situation that responds to events that are taking place. We are just starting to see the consequences of this logistical disaster. In my opinion, the responsibility lies with those who provide the logistical services in the transport and in the port of destination. We'll define our course of action in June," he added.

"The losses are difficult to quantify since we are just starting to see the consequences; however, they would still be over $100 million,” Araya said.



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