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Owner of longtime Kansas City chocolate company wins $33 million verdict

In World
April 12, 2024

Lindt & Sprungli, the multinational chocolatier and confectionary company that acquired Kansas City’s Russell Stover Candies for $1.6 billion in 2014, was awarded $33 million in a federal court trial that concluded last week.

The company filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri in 2022 against GXO Warehouse Co., a logistics company.

Lindt alleged that after it completed its acquisition of Russell Stover, it sought to consolidate the warehouses for Lindt’s growing portfolio of chocolate brands. (Lindt also owns Ghirardelli, the third-oldest chocolate company in the U.S.) GXO, then known as XPO Logistics, was hired to manage the overhaul.

The system XPO implemented broke down during December 2018 and early 2019, Lindt alleged, disrupting its peak season for chocolate sales and causing “massive harm” to the company.

“Because the Lindt companies (and Ghirardelli in particular) were unable to get their products on retail shelves and keep them stocked as necessary during this crucial time, Lindt lost millions of dollars in sales that it would have and should have ordinarily made,” the complaint reads. “Lindt also incurred many millions of dollars in other expenses resulting from XPO’s failings; for example, costs of deeply discounting holiday motif products that were delivered after the holidays; destroying or donating expired products; and paying customer fines for late deliveries.”

Lindt also alleged that XPO falsified inventory records to give the impression that the shipments had been completed when in fact they hadn’t.

The trial was held in Missouri, where Lindt & Sprungli’s North American division is headquartered. In early April, the jury awarded Lindt $18.3 million in lost profits and $15.1 million in extraordinary expenses.

Attorneys for Arnold & Porter, which represented Lindt, did not respond to a request for comment.

“We strongly disagree with the verdict, which relates to a legacy issue from 2017 under prior management, and intend to appeal,” a GXO spokesperson told The Star.

Russell Stover celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2023. Founded in a Denver bungalow by Clara and Russell Stover, the company relocated to Kansas City in 1932.

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