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ML Mac receives $330,000 in settlement


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POSTED: Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hilo-based ML Macadamia Orchards LP, the state's largest grower of macadamia nuts, has received $330,000 from Hamakua Macadamia Nut Co. after settling its lawsuit against the Big Island nut purchaser and processor.

ML Macadamia sued Kawaihae-based Hamakua on Jan. 30, 2008, for allegedly breaching a contract by buying and processing only 3 million pounds of nuts in 2007 rather than the required 6 million.

Richard Schnitzler, president and co-owner of Hamakua, called the settlement "a business decision."

"Our mission has always been to support local farmers and the concept of 100 percent Hawaii macadamia nuts for our local industry at a time when the pressure on our industry continues to make growing macadamia nuts difficult in Hawaii," he said. "This litigation has kept us from being able to focus on this for over a year now, and putting this behind us will allow us to continue to focus on our mission."

The contract stemmed from a December 2004 agreement in which Hamakua was obligated to purchase 6 million pounds of wet-in-shell nuts annually from 2007 through 2012.

ML Macadamia, which was seeking $1.2 million in damages for 2007, also alleged that Hamakua refused to purchase nuts in the years 2008 through 2012 as required by the contract and asked state Circuit Court in Hilo to compel Hamakua to either purchase the nuts or to pay damages.

The two parties mutually agreed on March 10 to settle all legal claims in exchange for Hamakua making the cash settlement, which was received by ML Macadamia last Wednesday. In addition, the parties agreed that the nut purchase contract would be terminated on June 10 of this year if Hamakua meets certain conditions.

Dennis Simonis, president and chief executive of ML Macadamia, declined to comment.