(Oct. 29, 11:49 a.m.) In a Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act case that could approach $1 million in claims, companies affiliated with San Diego based U.S. Farms Inc. are facing a lawsuit.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently ordered Sammy’s Produce Inc., Vista, Calif., a subsidiary of U.S. Farms, to halt doing business in the produce industry. The USDA found that Sammy’s Produce failed to pay $172,153 in PACA claims.

The lawsuit, filed May 21 on behalf of two Nogales, Ariz.-based companies, Sucasa Produce and P.D.G. Produce Inc., sought payment of $281,056, said attorney Patricia Ryan. The suit was amended, she said, to include a half dozen other Arizona and California grower-shippers. The total owned to all of the plaintiffs is nearly $1 million, she said.

The officers named in the lawsuit are Yan Skwara, president of U.S. Farms, Sam Nucci, vice president of sales and marketing, and Darin Pines, vice president of operations. Telephone calls to the defendants were not returned.

The suit is scheduled to go to trial Aug. 29, 2009.

“The plaintiffs may get 15 cents on the dollar, but we have to get judgments against the individuals who allowed this to happen,” Ryan said.

Formerly a sports and media relations firm, the company changed its name to U.S. Farms in July, 2006. At that time, Skwara told The Packer that shareholders had voted to change the corporation’s name and to focus on agriculture and nursery operations. The company subsequently formed or acquired other subsidiaries, including Sammy’s Produce.