A New Bedford, Massachusetts-based Superior Court has dismissed a lawsuit involving scallop and groundfish companies Blue Harvest Fisheries and Quinn Fisheries that alleged an executive with the settlement trust of Carlos Rafael was hindering the companies from completing a multimillion dollar transaction to transfer some of Quinn's fishing vessels and permits to Blue Harvest.
On Tuesday the court approved Rafael trustee Lloyd MacDonald's request to dismiss the case.
Earlier this year, the judge ordered the companies to try to settle the lawsuit over the matter via mediation before moving forward with the case, which proved unsuccessful.
Individual arbitrators are also named as defendants in the case.
The judge ultimately sided with the arbitrators in the matter, stating in an order Tuesday the defendants "are protected by arbitral immunity," which "covers all acts within the scope of the arbitral process,” and its purpose “is to protect decision-makers from undue influence and protect the decision-making process from reprisals by dissatisfied litigants.”
"Plaintiffs have failed to show that their claims relating to the trustee’s rights and/or conduct are likely to succeed," the judge said of the scallop and groundfish companies.
Under an agreement made during the 2020 sale of several of Rafael's vessels and permits to Blue Harvest, both the lenders and Rafael's trust must approve any sale of the vessels acquired, since those vessels serve as collateral for existing mortgages.
Blue Harvest and Quinn filed the initial complaint in April, asking the court to issue a "temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction" that would prohibit MacDonald from interfering in the sale.
Last September, Quinn Fisheries, a New Bedford scallop producer, agreed to pay $40 million (€36.9 million) for six of Rafael's scallop vessels.
That deal was originally set to close on April 16 of this year. Five of Rafael’s remaining scallop boats were acquired by other New Bedford scallop harvesters.
In October of this year, Blue Harvest CEO Keith Decker announced he would be taking on the top role at American Aquafarms, a Maine-based startup, closed-containment salmon farming project dreamed up by Norwegian executives.
Blue Harvest, backed by private equity fund Bregal, which also owns a stake in Alaska pollock harvester American Seafoods, has not named a CEO successor yet.
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- Blue Harvest CEO sees gold in groundfish: 'There aren’t enough boats to catch the fish'
- Group withdraws bid for Carlos Rafael vessels, citing Blue Harvest litigation