AKRON, Ohio (Legal Newsline) – Bumble Bee Foods claimed in its motion to dismiss that an Ohio man suing the company over allegations it conspired with other major tuna brands doesn’t have a solid case.
Bumble Bee filed the motion June 27 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in response to Bryan Anthony Reo’s May 29 lawsuit. Reo alleges that Bumble Bee teamed with other tuna fish manufacturing companies, Star Kist and Chicken of the Sea, in order to create an unlawful trust to increase and fix prices concerning canned tuna fish.
Reo alleges violations of the Consumer Sales Practices Act (CSPA) and common law fraud. He seeks damages of $65,000.
Bumble Bee first pointed out that Reo failed to prove he had actual standing in the case via the CSPA, considering he didn’t directly purchase items from the company to begin with. In this case, Anthony is an indirect purchaser, so Bumble Bee claims his case is not valid.
Bumble Bee also said Reo hasn’t fulfilled the requirements of Rule 9(b) when it comes to his claim that Bumble Bee committed fraud. The regulation says that in order for a common law fraud allegation to be successful, it at least as to, “allege the time, place, and content of the alleged misrepresentation on which he or she relied; the fraudulent scheme; the fraudulent intent of the defendants; and the injury resulting from the fraud,” according to the motion.
Bumble Bee said Reo didn’t meet any of these requirements. The only thing Reo claimed was that Bumble Bee had underlying actions that hinted it was conspiring with the other canned tuna fish companies.
In Reo's lawsuit, he pointed out Bumble Bee did enter a guilty plea to one-count of felony price-fixing last May in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Two of the company’s executives also pleaded guilty in December 2016, and its CEO was also indicted this past May over the price fixing allegations.
While Bumble Bee stated Reo is an indirect purchaser, Reo said that he bought more than 100 cans of Bumble Bee’s tuna fish from 2011 and 2013 and at least an additional 100 between 2014 and 2017. He said he expected Bumble Bee to have the fairest prices. He alleges that because of the alleged conspiracy and fraud in price-fixing, he experienced damages.