A jury has awarded $23.3 million to a company that for three decades had provided peppers to a California maker of chili sauces, including its popular Sriracha.
Huy Fong Foods, Inc. is on the hook for $10 million in punitive damages and another $14.8 million to compensate for two years of financial losses incurred by chili pepper supplier Underwood Ranches after their relationship abruptly ended, according to the Ventura County Star and court records.
“Those losses were real, so we’ve got a lot of ground to make up,” Craig Underwood, owner of Underwood Ranches, told CNBC in an interview. “But it was so emotionally rewarding to hear all of the jury members support us unanimously.”
A roughly $1.5 million overpayment from Huy Fong to Underwood was deducted from the $14.8 million.
James Q. McDermott, an attorney for Underwood, said in a phone interview Monday that the July 3 verdict fully vindicates his client’s position.
“It’s unfortunate it had to go to this length, but it’s obviously a good result that they’re happy with,” he said.
Daniel J. Carobini, an attorney for Huy Fong, told NBC News in an email that they disagreed with the jury’s decision.
“We will be challenging it via post-trial motions and an appeal,” he wrote.