The problem that Specialty Quality Packaging faced was reminiscent of the assembly line fiasco in a legendary, 1952 “I Love Lucy” episode.
Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance must quickly wrap chocolates as they come down a conveyor belt, but they are unable to keep up the pace. They begin tossing chocolates aside, popping them in their mouths and cramming candy in their clothing to hide the evidence of their failure.
Specialty’s problem was the opposite: machines it bought to produce Chinese wire-handle takeout containers were too slow.
“Unable to operate at the proper speed,” Specialty states in a lawsuit filed July 24 in Westchester Supreme Court, “the machines were moved off the plant floor and into storage, where they sit today as large and complex paperweights.”
Specialty, an Elmsford company that sells food packaging, sued the machine-maker, Modern Manufacturing Services LLC, Farmington, New York, for $600,000.
A Modern representative declined to respond to the allegations.
In 2014, according to the complaint, a supplier notified Specialty that it would no longer provide Chinese takeout containers. Specialty decided to make the boxes itself, and paid Modern $600,000 to make four container-forming machines.
Each machine had to produce at least 60 containers a minute. But when they were installed in 2016, Specialty alleges, “the machines sputtered and malfunctioned, failing to achieve an output rate anywhere close to the 60 per minute ‘guaranteed’ in the agreement.”
They also produced “an unacceptably high proportion of malformed containers and significant amounts of waste.”
The companies were unable to fix the machines, two of which experienced complete electronic failures, according to the complaint.
By then, Specialty no longer had a Chinese takeout container supplier, the complaint states. Inventory was diminishing swiftly, the customer base was shrinking and revenue was declining.
Specialty accuses Modern of breach of contract, breach of warranty and unjust enrichment.
It is represented by Peter N. Wang and Benjamin I. Bassoff, of Foley & Lardner LLP, Manhattan.