Jessica Karmasek Apr. 21, 2016, 8:40am


BILLINGS, Mont. (Legal Newsline) - A Montana farm couple have filed a lawsuit against a Wisconsin company that allegedly sold them “defective” bull semen.

Shawn D. Fredericks and Peggy Fredericks, who are residents of Busby in Big Horn County, Montana, filed their lawsuit in the state’s Twenty-Second Judicial District Court Feb. 29.

Genex Cooperative Inc., a subsidiary of Cooperative Resources International, is the named defendant. According to its website, the company “offers high-quality semen from profitable sires along with a customized approach to genetic and reproductive programs.

“Genex is your partner in improving farm profits by getting more cows pregnant and more genetically-superior calves on the ground.”

Not so, argue the Frederickses.

The farmers noted in their 11-page complaint that while their initial purchase from Genex, in 2014, was quite successful -- with 63 percent of their 143 artificially-inseminated heifers becoming pregnant -- the following year was less so.

Just like in 2014, Shawn Fredericks contracted with Genex to purchase semen for the 2015 breeding of his cattle.

In May 2015, he purchased 100 units of semen from a bull known as “Conneally Thunder” -- the very same bull semen he purchased the previous year.

In addition, Fredericks purchased 45 units of semen from another bull, known as “Western Cut.” The semen, according to the Frederickses’ complaint, was to be used with Conneally Thunder’s daughters that resulted from the 2014 cattle crop.

The couple paid the company a total of $2,966.50 for the semen.

And like in 2014 -- and at Genex’s recommendation -- Fredericks hired Chris Coombe of 3C Livestock and Breeding Services in Fromberg, Montana, to administer the artificial inseminations in May 2015.

“From the Frederickses’ perspective, the 2015 insemination process was done as identical as possible to the previous year,” their complaint states.

However, when the cattle were tested in August 2015 to determine how many of the heifers became pregnant through the artificial insemination, the Broadus Vet Clinic determined that only 40 of the 143 heifers became pregnant -- a conception rate of 28 percent.

“As soon as Shawn became aware of the results of the pregnancy tests, he informed Duane Hould at Genex of the low conception rate and that he believed it was a result of defective semen,” the Frederickses’ complaint states.

In response, Genex performed a semen evaluation test on the same batches purchased by the farmers. The results showed that three out of four samples tested failed to be adequate, according to the complaint.

The Frederickses are suing Genex for breach of contract, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty and negligent misrepresentation, among other things.

“At the time of sale and delivery, Genex knew or should have known that the semen being sold was defective and insufficient to breed cattle,” the farmers wrote. “Yet, Genex failed to use reasonable care or competence to obtain information regarding the actual quality of the semen being sold.”

The Frederickses seek an unspecified amount in damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

The plaintiffs are represented by the Parker Law Firm in Billings, Montana. Genex is represented by Michelle M. Sullivan and Adrian A. Miller of Holland & Hart LLP, also in Billings.

Both Sullivan and Miller declined to comment on the litigation.

Genex filed a removal notice in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, Billings Division, earlier this month.

In the company’s April 1 filing, it argues the lawsuit should be moved to the federal court because the parties are citizens of different states and the damages exceed $75,000.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

Organizations in this Story

Genex Cooperative Inc.
MBC Drive
Shawano, WI 54166

Holland & Hart LLP
401 North 31st Street
Billings, MT 59101

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