DOCUMENTS: Luis Ruelas Due in Court for $1.6 Million Bankruptcy Case

luis ruelas bankruptcy lawsuit

Charles Sykes/Bravo via Getty Luis Ruelas and Teresa Giudice.

A company “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Luis “Louie” Ruelas is associated with is due in court for a hearing in its $1.6 million bankruptcy case connected to a series of lawsuits filed in federal court in 2021.

Produce Depot LLC is scheduled for a court hearing in New York federal bankruptcy court on May 26. Teresa Giudice’s businessman fiance is named in the court documents as being a partner in the company, but he has said in legal filings he had no direct management over the Bronx-based produce wholesaler.

Produce Depot LLC filed for voluntary bankruptcy in the Eastern District of New York in March 2022 amid multiple legal battles, court records obtained by Heavy show. Ruelas is named in the documents, which can be read here, but he did not personally file for bankruptcy. The May 26 initial case management hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. in Brooklyn before U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Elizabeth S. Stong. It was initially scheduled for April but was pushed back at the request of Produce Depot’s attorney.

The legal drama for Ruelas’ company began with lawsuits filed by two vendors accusing Produce Depot of failing to pay them money they were owed for orders, according to court documents obtained by Heavy. The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing reveals Produce Depot owes money to several creditors, totaling more than $1.6 million. Produce Depot was founded in 2019, according to the New York Secretary of State’s office.

Court documents filed by Produce Depot’s attorney show Ruelas owns 60% of the company through his New Jersey-based Book 3 LLC. The company is also owned by Gaetano “Guy” Balzano, records show. According to court documents, Produce Depot sold $10.3 million worth of product in 2020, but after expenses, finished the year with a loss of $878,741. Attorneys and representatives for Ruelas and his company could not immediately be reached for comment by Heavy.

A Minnesota Company Says Louie Ruelas’ Produce Depot Didn’t Pay Them $113,404 for an Order of Fresh Fruits & Vegetables in 2020

According to the lawsuit filed by C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc., a supplier based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Luis Ruelas‘ company, Produce Depot, failed to pay $113,404.40 for orders of fresh fruits and vegetables delivered between October 2020 and November 2020. Produce Depot bought bulk orders of pineapple, apples, tomatoes and sweet potatoes from C.H. Robinson, records show. The lawsuit is still ongoing, but has been on hold because of the bankruptcy filing. A settlement conference was held on May 3.

In the lawsuit, C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. says Ruelas was “in control of, and responsible for, the day-to-day operations of Produce Depot and the disposition of Produce Depot’s assets … The Individual Defendants had full decision-making authority over the assets of Produce Depot and are charged with continuing statutory fiduciary duty” to C.H. Robinson Worldwide “to ensure full payment promptly.” The lawsuit names Ruelas and his Book 3 LLC individually along with Produce Depot.

But Ruelas disputes the claim that he had control over the company’s day-to-day business. In his own court filing, Rueleas and another business partner, Guy Balzano, Ruelas’ attorney writes, “Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to allege facts that state any claim upon which relief can be granted because, among other reasons, the defendants Guy and Luis are not individuals which are or were in custody, control or management of the defendant Produce’s business.”

Produce Depot Settled Another Lawsuit With a Vendor Who Said They Were Stiffed on a $127,000 Avocado Order

Another lawsuit was filed against Produce Depot in federal court in July 2021. Prometo Produce, based in California, claimed Ruelas’ company owes them $127,540 after failing to pay for avocado orders between August and September 2020. Ruelas and his partners filed a counterclaim against Prometo Produce, accusing the California-based avocado seller of breach of contract.

Ruelas’ attorney claims in the court filing that Prometo Produce portrayed itself as an avocado grower, but really the company acts as a broker to resell avocadoes from Mexico. Produce Depot also argued in its counterclaim that the avocadoes sold to them by Prometo Produce “suffered various end of season defects and were not of the quality necessary or appropriate for sale.”

That lawsuit was headed toward a settlement when Produce Depot filed for bankruptcy. Prometo Produce is now listed as one of the debtors in the Produce Depot bankruptcy filing and a hearing to approve the settlement is scheduled for June 15, 2022, records obtained by Heavy show.

Produce Depot has had other legal issues over the years. In April 2021, R & L Sunset Produce sued Produce Depot in federal court in New York, accusing the company of failing to pay for $101,594 in orders of fruits and vegetables. That lawsuit was settled in June 2021.

In March 2021, Green Light Go Inc. accused Produce Depot of failing to pay for $77,200 in orders. A federal judge issued a default judgment against Produce Depot ordering the company to pay Green Light Go the money it owed plus interest. The Northeast Banana Corp. sued Ruelas and Produce Depot in February 2021, saying it was owed $44,900. Cedro Bananas sued Produce Depot over $283,191 in unpaid bills in January 2021. And New Eastern Fresh Produce sued Produce Depot in claiming it was owed $77,626, plus interest.