Prada wants its alligator hatchlings.
The Italian luxury brand, which uses exotic skins such as crocodile and ostrich leather to make accessories including bags and briefcases, told a Florida federal court to enforce an arbitration award it had won in January against Caporicci USA Corp., an alligator skins supplier in Miami.
An Italian arbitration panel had ordered Caporicci to reimburse Prada more than $633,000 and to hand over 3,761 roughly year-old alligator hatchlings after a purchase agreement for 15,000 alligator eggs soured in the execution. Now Prada and Caporicci are battling in federal court in Florida about what comes next.
Caporicci wants the Florida federal court to hit pause on confirming that award while it hashes things out with the two other parties — an alligator farm and an Italian tanning company — in its Florida lawsuit against them and Prada. Meanwhile, Prada argued in a court filing on Friday that the award in its favor should be confirmed immediately, and that Caporicci missed its chance during the arbitration to address its other outstanding claims.
“Caporicci’s failure to assert its claims in the arbitration, after being ordered to do so, does not revive a right to pursue them in this court,” Prada argued in its filing Friday.
Caporicci has argued that the arbitration had involved only Prada because it involved the purchase agreement between them. Representatives for Prada and an attorney for Caporicci could not be reached for comment Monday.
Prada had advanced Caporicci $1.2 million to obtain 15,000 alligator eggs, agreeing to buy the surviving hatchlings from that batch at a rate of $100 each, under the disputed purchase agreement.
Prada had expected to buy much of the yield from that batch, in the range of about 12,000 hatchlings, accounting for a roughly 15 percent mortality rate. But Caporicci could provide only a substantially smaller number, and attributed the shortfall to a “lower than expected yield of eggs and hatchlings during the past season,” according to court documents in the case.
The dispute, marked by fraught dealings among growers, suppliers and other intermediaries across international boundaries, draws attention to the sourcing of some of the more controversial materials used in apparel and accessories.
A vast majority of Prada’s outside manufacturers and suppliers of raw materials are in the EU, though a little over 10 percent are based elsewhere, according to its 2018 annual report. Prada said in the report that it is highly selective of its suppliers “with the aim of establishing long-term relationships.”