Ornua sues cold store operator after racking collapses

Kerrygold owner seeks €9m damages as it joins Kepak and others in case

A dairy co-op is suing a cold store operator for some €9 million over damage to its butter products when racking collapsed in a refrigerated warehouse.

Ornua Co-operative Ltd, which owns the Kerrygold brand, is suing VF Cold Stores, which stored 3,360 pallets of frozen butter when the racking collapsed on July 25th 2018 in its Jamestown Road premises in Finglas, Dublin. Ornua is also suing Capendu Ltd, of Dunboyne, Co Meath, which VF Cold Stores says installed and maintained the racking system.

In a separate but related case, four other companies in the Kepak meat processing group are suing the defendants in relation to damage to their products as a result of the collapsed racking. Kepak Group Ltd, Kepak Convenience Foods, Kepak Longford and McCarren Meats of Cavan claim 850 pallets of meat products were damaged.

The case was admitted to the Commercial Court list by Mr Justice David Barniville. He was told the defendants were neutral in relation to the application to admit the case.

In its proceedings, Ornua says, following the incident, a difficult and complex process of sorting and segregating some 41,000 cases of product of different customers was undertaken. This included staff having to work in temperatures of minus 18 degrees celsius and ensuring traceability requirements of the product as required by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine.

Colin Kelly, Ornua's head of strategy planning and risk management, said in an affidavit the final figure of losses has still not been quantified, but the company considers the claim to be in the region of €8.95 million and may exceed €9 million. In an affidavit, Kepak director Robert Grogan said, while its assessment was ongoing, it was estimated the total value of the loss to Kepak and McCarren exceeds €1 million. Kepak's insurer had agreed to indemnify and the proceedings are being prosecuted as a subrogated claim by the insurer.

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