Lawyers representing suppliers are going after a Portland, Maine, area wholesaler that has closed its doors though chances for repayment appears low, attorneys say.

Sandler Bros. Wholesale Fruit & Produce, Biddeford, Maine, closed its doors in April owing a large group of Boston-area distributors more than $360,000.



In two separate cases involving the U.S. Department of Agriculture Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, lawyers are seeking repayment from Mark Sandler, the company’s former president and sales manager, and Candice O’Brien, former treasurer and chief financial officer, as well as from Marjorie Sandler, the widow of former owner Herbert Sandler, and Michelle Paulsson, trustee of Herbert Sandler’s revocable trust.

Randy Creswell, a Portland lawyer representing Mark Sandler and Marjorie Sandler, said the Sandler Bros. entity remains without assets.

“The odds of them collecting funds in this case are not good,” he said. “They have nothing to pay to the plaintiffs when they get a judgment. Pursuing litigation is understandable, but this is probably an instance of good money being thrown after bad where they’re paying lawyers to pursue claims that may have legal merit against Sandler but no possibility of real recovery.”

Sean Joyce, a lawyer representing 13 Boston distributors owed $285,000, declined to discuss the potential payback. He said he is discussing a settlement with the Sandlers’ lawyers.

Joyce said Sandler Bros. management splintered in 2008 and the partners couldn’t keep up with outstanding obligations.

“They (the Sandlers) overextended themselves,” Joyce said. “They were trying to collect on certain receivables, which were slow in coming in, but continued to fill orders though they had difficulty collecting from the end-users of the produce.”

Owed $75,000, the Peter Condakes Co. Inc., Chelsea, Mass., is the single largest creditor involved in the PACA proceedings, Joyce said.

The other 13 suppliers involved in a separate suit include Boston-based Boston Tomato & Packaging LLC, Eaton & Eustis Co., Garden Fresh Salad Co., State Garden Inc., Inc., and the Chelsea-based Disilva Fruit and Gregg Dziama Inc.

Legal deadlines for motions begin Dec. 7 with a March trial deadline for the Condakes case, while motions for the others remain on a similar time frame with a possible trial on track for next fall, Joyce said.