Farmers file lawsuit against True Blend Tobacco for millions

A group of tobacco farmers has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against True Blend Tobacco Inc.

On Friday, lawyers Trung Nguyen and James Zibarras appeared in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Woodstock on behalf of 49 growers who have contracts with True Blend.

The lawyers obtained a “Mareva” injunction, which freezes all of the assets of True Blend Tobacco Inc., as well as two of its directors, Victor Osztrovics and Brian Poreba.

The injunction means that neither True Blend, Osztrovics or Poreba can dissipate their assets or continue shipping the farmers’ tobacco without approval from the Court.

True Blend still owes the farmers $12 million for the tobacco since it was passed along to them last year.

The farmers are also claiming damages for tobacco they never delivered to True Blend out of fear they would not be paid for it as well.

In mid-February, a few farmers blockaded trucks carrying tobacco out a Tillsonburg processing plant out of protest.

At the time, they said 64 farmers were owed $6.6 million by True Blend. The company has since said it is paying out what they can, but much of the bill is remains outstanding.

Nearly a month ago, 45 tobacco growers walked into a Norfolk OPP detachment in Simcoe to demand they investigate True Blend.

Nguyen said the freezing order will protect the farmers to ensure that the defendants’ assets will not be dissipated before the end of the lawsuit.

As a result of these business relationships gone wrong, the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers’ Marketing Board has approved only 193 licenses for growers to produce 46.3 million pounds of tobacco this year instead of the 251 growers licensed and approved to produce more than 50 million pounds in 2010.

A representative from True Blend could not be reached as of press time.

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