According to a complaint filed Wednesday in the Eastern District of Wisconsin, pepperoni Liguria Foods is owed over half a million dollars in unpaid purchase orders after the defendant, Palermo Villa, allegedly accused Liguria of providing contaminated product. The plaintiff countered that Palermo “lost control of its own operations and began producing contaminated frozen pizzas.”
The complaint began by explaining the detailed food safety measures in place at its production facilities, as well as the regulatory scrutiny that it is subjected to to ensure food safety. They explained that they have supplied the defendant since 2016; in 2019, Palermo allegedly notified the plaintiff that it had found “blue plastic” on pepperoni.
According to the complaint, Palermo initially claimed that the blue material was found inside pepperoni sticks; but “Subsequent investigation indicated that the blue belting was found resting on top of the pepperoni and was not embedded.” Moreover, the plaintiff said they hired an expert who determined the blue plastic material at issue had a pattern on it that was not consistent with the blue conveyor belt material used in Liguria’s facilities; they also passed a USDA inspection, and even an inspection from the defendant’s staff.
After months of further allegations, the complaint said, Palermo sent the plaintiff a demand letter for over $4 million in damages, which they reduced in subsequent demands.
The complaint further alleged that during this time, Palermo continued to order pepperoni from the plaintiff, but failed to pay a total of over $500,000 in purchase orders.
The plaintiff supplier is suing for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, negligent representation, fraud, and payment of the outstanding account. They are seeking damages and costs, and are represented by Fox Rothschild.
Palermo provided the following statement to Law Street Media:
“The lawsuit filed by Liguria Foods, LLC is riddled with falsehoods and inaccurate claims, and it’s a bogus attempt to divert attention from Liguria’s own mistakes. Palermo’s has both the facts and the law on our side, and we will aggressively present our case in court and demonstrate that the Liguria claims are spurious.
“Palermo’s takes safety and quality very seriously, and it’s important to note that no products made with the pepperoni in question were ever sold to consumers. We have made multiple attempts over the past two years to resolve this dispute, and it’s disappointing that at this late date, Liguria Foods has decided to take an alternative route with this inaccurate lawsuit.
“While no products made with this Liguria pepperoni ever made it to stores for sale to consumers, we always welcome feedback. If, for any reason, a consumer should ever be unsatisfied with any Palermo’s pizza, we encourage them to contact us through our consumer service number (1-888-571-7181), and we will work with them to make it right because the Palermo’s Guarantee is on every pizza we make. It is and has always been our mission to deliver a great pizza experience, and this ill-advised lawsuit won’t change that commitment one bit.”