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GOOD Meat Singapore
GOOD Meat recently partnered with Huber’s Butchery in Singapore to sell a “new, lower cost formulation" for retail using 3% cultivated chicken. Image credit: GOOD Meat

Brief: ABEC accuses GOOD Meat/Eat Just of ‘gamesmanship’ and ‘bad faith’ arguments; says it is still owed $63m

June 3, 2024

Bioreactor supplier ABEC has accused Eat Just and its cultivated meat subsidiary GOOD Meat of engaging in “the worst aspects of litigation practice in the profession” in a May 30 court filing seeking to compel the latter to provide “full and complete” responses to its requests during the discovery process.

The legal dispute began in March 2023 when ABEC filed a lawsuit accusing GOOD Meat of breach of contract by failing to pay its bills on time.

According to ABEC, GOOD Meat still owes $62,649,231.79 for work ABEC has already completed. Eat Just, in turn, claims that ABEC breached the terms of their contract.

In a motion to compel filed on May 30, ABEC alleges that GOOD Meat “has failed to provide proper answers” to ABEC’s requests for admission, instead “choosing gamesmanship over compliance” with discovery obligations.

“Since this litigation began, defendants have engaged in dilatory tactics related to discovery… the RFA responses are evasive, propound bad faith objections, and represent the worst aspects of litigation practice in the profession.”

It adds: “ABEC respectfully requests that the court deem admitted the requests for admission (RFA), or in the alternative, compel GOOD Meat to provide complete and accurate responses to the RFAs, and sanction GOOD Meat for its failure to comply with basic discovery obligations.”

A request for admission is a discovery device that allows one party to request that another party admit or deny the truth of a statement under oath. If admitted, the statement is considered to be true.

Neither party has commented on the ongoing litigation.

What is the case about?

ABEC, which had been working with GOOD Meat on pilot cultivated chicken facilities in California and Singapore, signed an agreement with the startup in August 2021. Under the seven-year deal, ABEC would design, manufacture, install and commission multiple 250,000-liter vessels— “the largest known bioreactors for avian and mammalian cell culture”—for a large-scale facility in the US.

Given “financing hurdles,” by November 2022, Eat Just/GOOD Meat “recommended the evaluation of a phased approach, creating five 125,000-L bioreactors instead of four 250,000-L bioreactors,” and the two started corresponding over amendments to their agreement.

By March 2023, ABEC said it had had no choice but to take legal action over unpaid bills. Eat Just/GOOD Meat responded by filing a series of counterclaims, arguing that the parties never formally ratified amendments to their original agreement, and that ABEC had simply proceeded as if they had.

In a recent ruling on the counterclaims, the judge handling the case sided with Eat Just/GOOD Meat on some matters and with ABEC on others.

Speaking to AgFunderNews in March, Eat Just founder and CEO Josh Tetrick said he is “not attempting to raise money for a large-scale cultivated meat facility right now” and is instead focusing on process development at the firm’s plant in Alameda, California, and working on new cell lines he claims will enable more efficient large-scale production.

Further reading:

‘The relationship soon turned rancid…’ Judge awards wins to both sides in ugly dispute between Eat Just and ABEC over unpaid bills

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