E. Tate Crymes

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A deal between a shipper from California, unlicensed in Georgia to deal in agricultural products, and a grower of agricultural products based in Georgia, specifically for produce like kale and collard greens, turned sour and ended in a lawsuit. Relying on the previously uninterpreted provisions of Georgia’s Dealers in Agricultural Products Act (the Act), potential for abuse by unlicensed dealers in agricultural products was ripe and ready to harvest. In response to three certified questions from the federal judiciary, the Georgia Supreme Court narrowly interpreted an exception to the license requirement for agricultural products dealers, holding that license registration under the Act is required for the purpose of regulating in the interest of the public and unlicensed dealers may not sue to enforce contracts to carry out business regulated under the act. The shipper, an agricultural products dealer based in California, tried to enforce a contract for the sale of goods in Georgia. This dealer allegedly violated the Act because the dealer did not hold a dealer in agricultural products license in Georgia. To resolve the claims brought forth by the parties, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia needed to interpret several provisions of the Act which had not been previously interpreted by Georgia’s appellate courts.