UPDATE: Federal court closed the case on April 21 when Heineken USA filed a notice of dismissal. The company stated in an email on May 3 that it “continues to work with SLG for its logistics needs, now more than ever, and is appreciative of SLG’s partnership.”
Heineken USA Inc., the White Plains importer of premium beers, claims it had to destroy 15,000 cases that a warehouse company mishandled.
Heineken sued Satellite Logistics Group Inc. for $234,382 on April 14 in U.S. District Court in White Plains for allegedly sidelining freight cars of beer in subfreezing weather, rendering the beer “not fit for human consumption.”
Satellite Logistics also operates as Hillebrand, an international company based in Houston that specializes in storing and distributing beer, spirits and wine. A company representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Nearly every week, Heineken USA imports large shipments of bottles and cans of various brands from Heineken Brewery in Amsterdam.
In January 2019, 11 shipping containers were dispatched from Rotterdam, Netherlands and Antwerp, Belgium to the Port of Newark. From Newark, the cargo was shipped by rail to Satellite Logistics’ warehouse in Bedford Park, Illinois, near Chicago.
The containers arrived from late January to mid-February 2019. The cargo was supposed to be promptly removed from the containers and stored in Satellite Logistics’ climate-controlled warehouse.
Instead, Heineken alleges, the containers were left in an adjacent rail yard for days as temperatures ranged from zero to -22 degrees Fahrenheit.
While beer devotees the world over appreciate a cold one, there can be too much of a good thing. Beer freezes at 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and when that happens, according to the complaint, the “taste is irreversibly changed.”
The cell walls of the yeast burst. Carbonation decreases. And when the beer thaws, a haze or flakes can be suspended in the water and alcohol.
Heineken claims that 15,030 cases of beer – 360,720 cans and bottles – were damaged.
The importer accuses Satellite Logistics of breach of contract and bailment, damaging a product that had been entrusted to the company.
Heineken is demanding $234,382 for the damaged beers, freight charges and the cost of destroying the unusable product.
Heineken is represented by attorney Lawrence C. Glynn of Little Neck.