New York hedge fund sues South Plains farmers - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

New York hedge fund sues South Plains farmers

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Nearly 300 farmers, mostly from the South Plains, are being sued.

It is over an ongoing issue with West Texas Guar in Brownfield.

The farmers agreed to grow guar and ship it to the Terry County plant in exchange for a paycheck 45 days later.

Farmers said 45 days came and went, but they reportedly never received a dime.

Instead of being handed a paycheck, they were handed a lawsuit filed by West Texas Guar's largest shareholder, Scopia Windmill Fund LP.

Lubbock attorney Dustin Burrows who spent Thursday morning looking over the lawsuit is angry, and so are the 174 guar farmers he is representing.

He said the multimillion dollar New York hedge fund wants first dibs on any money that eventually comes from the sale of the guar.

Burrows said if Scopia Windmill Fund LP wins, chances are farmers will not see any of the money they are owed, which collectively adds up to about $19.4 million.

"What they are basically saying is look, we made these loans to this company West Texas Guar, that we own and control, and those loans are more important than the money that we owe anybody else. These guar farmers. And so we are going to take that guar that is in west texas guar's possession and we are going to sell it and all that money that we are going to get from the sales price isn't going to go to the farmers first, it's going to go to Scopia Windmill Fund LP," Burrows said.

Tommy Mason is one of the farmers Burrows is representing. Mason said he has farmed for about 31 years and was initially excited to grow guar, which is why he jumped on the opportunity. However, he said he delivered his first crop in October and still has not seen a dime of what he was promised. 

Mason said West Texas Guar owes him $110,000 to $115,000.

Mason said he would not be surprised if some farmers have already filed for bankruptcy. He said about 30 percent of his income was supposed to come from this crop. 

"I still owe my banks for last year's operating note," Mason said.

"A lot of them took out bank loans to get started. They put their water on it, they put their time on it, they put their money into it, they grew the crop, they harvested it, they delivered on their end on the bargain," Burrows said.

"We don't think at the end of the day there's going to be enough money for the farmers to get a dime if Scopia gets their way," Burrows said. 

 Burrows and a team of attorneys plan to sue Scopia on fraud and conspiracy.     

 We did reach out to Scopia, who is based in New York, for comment. 

They have not returned our call. 

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