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Loblaw's missing 25 pallets of walnuts spur lawsuit

Carriers allegedly delivered the pricy nuts to the wrong distribution centre, and then a storage facility before their "disappearance"
Walnuts cost $16 for a 680-gram bag at Loblaw's Real Canadian Superstore

Silver Pacific Investments, which does business as SPI Logistics, is suing contractors for losing 25 pallets of President's Choice walnuts that its client, Loblaw Cos. Ltd. (TSX:L), wanted to be delivered to a Calgary distribution centre from Sunco Foods Inc. in Burnaby.

"The current location of the shipment is unknown," SPI said in its notice of civil claim filed in BC Supreme Court yesterday (April 18.)

The lawsuit did not pin a value on the walnuts and instead said that SPI is seeking general and special damages for breach of contract. 

Loblaw's Real Canadian Superstore's website prices 680-gram bags of raw California walnuts at $16 apiece.

SPI noted in its lawsuit that "Loblaw provided clear and unequivocal instructions to deliver the shipment to Loblaw Distribution Centre 22 in Calgary."

All shipping documentation, including a sales order and the bill of lading, had that distribution centre's address. 

Instead, however, SPI alleged that contractors misdelivered the shipment. 

Defendant Cool Running's Consulting Ltd. allegedly accepted the assignment and tendered the shipment to co-defendant Sky Blue Transport Ltd., which is identified as an Abbotsford-based carrier.

"Despite clear instructions from Loblaw, Cool Running's instructed Sky Blue to deliver the shipment to Loblaw Distribution Centre 34 in Regina, Saskatchewan," the lawsuit alleged.

Sky Blue then allegedly on Nov. 7, 2022 picked up the shipment in Burnaby, and on Nov. 10, 2022 informed Cool Running's that the Saskatchewan distribution centre did not have an appointment to receive the shipment, and would not accept it.

Cool Running's then told Sky Blue to redirect the shipment to JLL Storage in Regina, the lawsuit alleged.

The walnuts were at JLL Storage throughout November 2022, the lawsuit noted. 

It was not until Dec. 1, 2022 that Cool Running's engaged another co-defendant, Smithers-based Starlight Northern Transportation Inc., to finish delivering the shipment, according to the lawsuit.

"Cool Running's instructed Starlight to pick up the shipment from JLL Storage and deliver it to Wild West Ranch in Clandeboye, Manitoba," the lawsuit alleged. 

"The shipment was never delivered to Loblaw Distribution Centre 22 in Calgary."

On Dec. 8, 2022, Loblaw notified Cool Running's that the shipment was not delivered, but Cool Running's did not inform SPI about this communication, SPI alleged in its notice of civil claim. 

A little more than six months later, on June 12, 2023, Lowblaw notified SPI that it intended to "make a claim against" SPI for the value of the lost shipment, SPI said in its lawsuit. 

By Feb. 5, 2024, there was no progress locating the 25 pallets of walnuts. 

"Following its routine practice, Loblaw automatically deducted the value of the lost shipment from SPI's account receivables," the lawsuit noted. 

"SPI  claims against the defendants, jointly and severally, for the loss and disappearance of the shipment."

SPI does not hold Loblaw to blame at all. 

"Loblaw is entitled to deduct the full value of the claim from SPI's invoices for movement of freight," SPI said. 

"SPI will protect, defend, indemnify and hold Loblaw harmless from and against any and all losses."

None of the defendants has yet filed a response to SPI's notice of civil claim.

None of the allegations in the lawsuit has been proven in court. 

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