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Green Valley Trading Co. v. Olam Americas, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

January 7, 2020

GREEN VALLEY TRADING COMPANY, Plaintiff
v.
OLAM AMERICAS, INC. Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          Dennis Saylor IV United States District Judge

         This is an action to compel arbitration and appoint an arbitrator. Jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship. In 2015, Green Valley Trading Company filed a complaint against Olam Americas, Inc., seeking $83, 180.40 allegedly due under a contract to purchase coffee. In 2017, the parties agreed to an arbitration agreement and dismissed that lawsuit.

         The present complaint arises under that arbitration agreement. The agreement included a clause providing a method for the selection of an arbitrator, but the parties have been unable to agree on a candidate. Green Valley filed this complaint asking the court to appoint an arbitrator and compel arbitration pursuant to the agreement and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 251 §§ 2 and 3. Olam has moved to dismiss the action for failure to state a claim.

         For the reasons set forth below, the motion to dismiss will be denied.

         I. Background

         The follow facts are presented as alleged in the complaint unless otherwise noted.

         A. Coffee Dispute

         In May 2014, Green Valley Trading Company and Olam Americas, Inc., entered into a purchase contract for Bolivian Fair Trade Organic Coffee. According to Green Valley, and pursuant to the terms of the contract, it shipped and delivered coffee to Olam, which accepted the delivery.

         On May 15, 2015, Olam paid Green Valley $36, 496.31. According to Green Valley, however, it was owed $119, 676.71 under the contract. It made repeated demands for the remaining $83, 180.40 due.

         On November 12, 2015, Green Valley filed an action against Olam in the Massachusetts Superior Court for Essex County. The complaint alleged breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and a violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A.

         On December 28, 2015, Olam removed that case to this court. The case was then litigated for more than a year.

         B. Arbitration Agreement

         In May 2017, the parties entered into an agreement to resolve the matter through arbitration. The parties stipulated to a dismissal of the lawsuit pursuant to Rule 41(a)(2).

         The arbitration agreement is two pages long. Paragraph 3 of the agreement addresses the selection of the arbitrator. It states: “Within twenty (20) days of the date of the latest signature hereof, Green Valley and Olam will select a mutually agreeable single arbitrator with experience in commodity futures ...


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