I have been accused of beating up on Primus a bit too much recently.  So, I have to give it some credit for doubling-down on fighting back.  I am just not so sure it is a good business model in the long-term.

In its answer to the plaintiff Onsager’s complaint in Montana Federal Court, Primus includes in its Answer and Cross-Complaint the typical defense (among the 23 total defenses asserted) alleging that the damages the plaintiffs have suffered were caused by others, including Walmart and Frontera, and that as a result, liability “should be apportioned according to their respective degrees of fault.”

Apparently, Primus did not believe that this defense was sufficient. Primus has, thus, also cross-claimed against—which is to say sued—Walmart and Frontera.

In lawyer-talk, the claim is for “Equitable Implied Indemnity and Contribution.” But what it really means is that Primus wants Walmart and Frontera to reimburse it if a jury ends up issuing a verdict-ordering Primus to pay damages to the plaintiffs. In its claim against Walmart and Frontera, Primus alleges that both parties had “failed to request or require corrective actions with respect to the deficiencies, non-compliance issues, or comments set forth in the Packinghouse Audit Report.” (Paragraphs 62 & 63)

The claim also seems to point the finger at the FDA and the Colorado Dept. of Health, alleging that, “[d]espite epidemiological evidence,” the two agencies did not “infor[m] the public of the potentially contaminated cantaloupes, until September 14, 2011, when Jensen Farms issued a voluntary Class 1 recall.”

In short, despite the alleged shortcoming of Primus, the fact that so many were seriously injured or killed is the fault of Walmart and Frontera for having decided to rely on the audit that Primus performed.

You have to wonder how long suppliers like Frontera and retailers like Walmart will accept a Primus audit?