A federal bankruptcy judge has approved a settlement of one case in the legal tangle that grew out of Turner Grain's bankruptcy.
The ruling by Judge Phyllis Jones puts an end to litigation between Bunge North America Inc., a St. Louis-based food and animal-feed ingredient company, and the estate of Turner Grain Merchandising Inc.
The Bunge lawsuit is just one of many filed after Brinkley-based Turner collapsed. Turner sought bankruptcy protection in October 2014, listing liabilities of $24.8 million and assets of $13.8 million. Turner's failure cost farmers who did business with the grain dealer tens of millions of dollars. Most of the lawsuits that were filed against Turner are now part of the the bankruptcy case, which was converted to a Chapter 7 liquidation in May.
In its Nov. 3, 2014, complaint, Bunge said it accepted nine deliveries of corn at its Helena-West Helena grain elevator valued at $30,929 in September 2014. Bunge said it was told the corn belonged to Felicia Coleman, her creditor AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, and her landlords, Busted Mallard Duck Club LLC in Monroe County and Pedo & Mabel LLC in Lee and/or Monroe County.
Felicia Coleman's husband, Jason, was president of Turner Grain Merchandising and owned at least 50 percent of the company, according to Bunge's lawsuit. Janet Coleman of Holly Grove in Monroe County is listed as agent for Pedo and Mabel LLC, according to the Arkansas secretary of state's website.
Before it could pay for the corn, Bunge said, it learned that there was a dispute between Busted Mallard and Felicia Coleman and a receiver was appointed for Turner Grain. To resolve the matter and remove itself from Turner's bankruptcy, Bunge asked to turn the money over to the federal court, minus its attorneys' fees and expenses.
Richard Cox, the trustee for Turner Grain Merchandising; Bunge, Jason and Felicia Coleman, AgHeritage and Pedo & Mabel, asked the judge to approve a settlement distributing the disputed funds.
Under the terms approved by Jones, Bunge will receive $16,432 for attorneys' fees and expenses; AgHeritage will receive $7,143 as a secured lender with a security interest in the corn; Busted Mallard will receive $4,828 for a landlord's lien on a portion of the corn, and Pedo & Mabel will receive $2,524 for a landlord's lien on a portion of the corn.
Jones' Nov. 24 order said Bunge will be protected from further claims by Turner's creditors related to the money after it has made the payments in accordance with the settlement.
Business on 12/02/2015