Klein & Wilson

California hot sauce factory facing breach of contract claims

The ongoing business litigation against Huy Fong Foods may have just gotten a little bigger. The owners of the Los Angeles County Sriracha hot sauce factory are named in a suit filed by the city of Irwindale, California, and the suit claims that the smell coming from the factor is a public nuisance. The city is asking that a permanent injunction against the factory's operations be awarded.

According to city officials, one of the conditions of the Huy Fong Foods' operating permit is that it cannot emit harmful odors. Because of this, the city is planning on amending its complaint to add breach of contract. An attorney for the city stressed that the initial facts of the case had not changed and that the city was simply approaching the suit from a different legal angle.

In November, a judge granted a request from the city to temporarily shut down the factory through December of 2013, and the California Department of Public Health ordered the company to keep the sauces on hold for 30 days before shipping them out. According to court records, complaints have been filed with the city by at least 18 area households, claiming that there is a red dust in the air that creates the sensation of pepper spray, and residents are also experiencing nosebleeds, heartburn and swollen glands.

Huy Fong Foods and the city of Irwindale are currently in negotiations on what technology the factory could use to temper the smell. Notwithstanding the other complaints against the company, breach of contract accusations can be a serious part of business litigation, and those facing similar situations as Huy Fong Foods may benefit from discussing the particulars of their cases with someone well versed in business and commercial law.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "More legal woes for Sriracha plant in fight with Irwindale" Frank Shyong, Jan. 31, 2014

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