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Simplot sues BNSF over damaged french fry shipment

J.R. Simplot Co.’s headquarters is shown in downtown Boise in May 2013. Simplot claims in a lawsuit against BNSF Railway Co. that a large freight shipment of french fries was damaged while being transported to Georgia. (Associated Press)
J.R. Simplot Co.’s headquarters is shown in downtown Boise in May 2013. Simplot claims in a lawsuit against BNSF Railway Co. that a large freight shipment of french fries was damaged while being transported to Georgia. (Associated Press)
Associated Press

BOISE – Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Co. has filed a lawsuit against a railway company after a large freight train carrying french fries traveling to Georgia spoiled because it wasn’t properly sealed.

According to the lawsuit, the company paid BNSF Railway Co. more than $12,000 last year to deliver 5,304 cases of french fries at 10 degrees.

The french fries left Grand Forks, North Dakota, on June 5, 2013, and arrived in Doraville, Georgia, two weeks later. Once at the cold storage facility, the lawsuit contends that officials discovered the freight door had not been closed all the way and thus exposed the french fries to elevated temperatures for an unknown time.

A phone call by the Associated Press to the railway company seeking comment was not returned Friday.

The suit claims that railway officials said even though the product was damaged, it could still be sold but in a different market. However, Simplot argued the fries posed a safety hazard if sold to consumers.

“However, despite acknowledging that the product was damaged in transit, the Plaintiff’s claim for the loss of the product was denied,” attorneys for Simplot state in the suit.

The railway company denied Simplot’s claim twice and maintained that the fries should be sold “as is.”

“The vast majority of the shipment developed frost and ice crystals which rendered the product unfit for consumption and which may constitute a safety hazard if used in an ordinary manner,” the attorneys said.

Simplot is seeking more than $83,000 in damages that cover the cost of the product, delivery charges and disposal fees.

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