Resin distributor Mass Polymers Corp. is entangled in a court fight with a customer who claims it was sold the wrong resin.
Supreme Oil Co., a maker of vegetable oil and condiments based in Englewood, N.J., filed a lawsuit against Mass Polymers in U.S. District Court in Newark, N.J., in April. Mass Polymers is a supplier of polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene based in Bridgewater, N.J. The case remained active as of Sept. 22, when new filings were made.
According to the April 2 filing, Supreme Oil is seeking at least $225,000 in damages as a result of Mass Polymers allegedly selling them mislabeled high density polyethylene between October 2013 and March 2015.
Prior to September 2013, Supreme Oil sourced Chevron Phillips Chemical Co.'s Marlex-brand HDPE from distributor A-Top Polymers and sales rep Donald O'Sullivan. Supreme Oil used the resin to make blow molded containers, mostly for vegetable oil at its plants in Englewood and in Brundidge, Ala.
O'Sullivan joined Mass Polymers earlier in 2013 when A-Top was sold to Ravago Group. Supreme Oil officials were told the Marlex they were buying from A-Top was made at a reactor shared by Chevron Phillips and Ineos Group, according to the lawsuit.
Supreme Oil believed all of the resin it was buying from Mass Polymers was similar to the Marlex-brand HDPE that it had been buying from A-Top, and that it was made at the same shared reactor. The Mapolene resin even had the same identifying number — 5502 — as the Marlex grade, according to the suit.
Instead, officials claimed in the suit, some of the resin they were sold was a generic brand of HDPE. The alleged replacement resin caused “significant processing difficulties” for Supreme Oil and led to “substantial and costly failures,” according to the lawsuit. After investigating, Supreme Oil eliminated potential plant sources for the problem, officials said in the filing, leaving the resin as the only remaining cause.
Supreme Oil later identified the replacement resin as “a lower quality, less expensive and non-conforming resin obtained from various sources other than the [Chevron Phillips] reactor shared by Ineos.”
Mass Polymers countered on May 13 by filing a counter-claim and complaint against Supreme Oil and O'Sullivan. In the filing, company officials claimed that Supreme Oil still owes Mass Polymers almost $600,000 for four rail cars and one truckload of generic prime HDPE.
They also claim that Supreme Oil knew from the start of its purchase agreement with Mass Polymers that it was buying generic HDPE under the Mapolene brand name. Additionally, Mass Polymers officials claim O'Sullivan arranged for Supreme Oil to receive those five resin shipments without payment and that he has since left Mass Polymers and taken the Supreme Oil account with him.
“O'Sullivan has a very strong business relationship with Supreme and is willing to do anything to maintain that relationship [because] Supreme's orders generate the predominant amount of O'Sullivan's commissions as a sales representative in the petrochemicals industry,” the suit claims.
The Mapolene-brand HDPE sold to Supreme Oil is identical to the resin made by Chevron Phillips and Ineos even though the materials were not made at the same reactor, Mass Polymers officials added in the filing.
“The purchase orders made no reference to any requirement that the resin ordered be manufactured or sourced at a specific [Chevron Phillips] reactor shared by Ineos, or that a specific manufacturer's generic prime resin be used to fill the order,” they said.
Officials with Supreme Oil could not be reached for comment. Carl Soranno, a lawyer representing Mass Polymers, declined to comment on the case. O'Sullivan and his lawyer, Michael McGrath, also declined to comment.