I'd been hearing for months how a relatively new Dutch Harbor processing company, Harbor Crown Seafoods Inc., was really struggling financially.
Today, on a visit to the state courthouse in Anchorage, I found hard proof.
Five days ago, Superior Court Judge William Morse signed a final judgment against Harbor Crown awarding $203,252 to the owner of the crab boat Tempo Sea.
Tempo Sea sued on June 23 alleging that Harbor Crown failed to pay for 131,425 pounds of snow crab delivered to the plant on April 3.
Harbor Crown didn't answer the lawsuit in a timely fashion, resulting in the default or final judgment.
According to state and court records, Kenneth Dorris of Hayden, Idaho, is president and owns a third of the company. A unit of Toronto-based Hai Yang International Inc. is listed as the largest shareholder with 45 percent.
The court file contains some correspondence from a Spokane, Wash., lawyer who said he was "assisting Harbor Crown with its current financial difficulties."
In one letter the lawyer, John Munding, mentions the company's creditors and a fear of possible bankruptcy.
And in a July 26 e-mail to Tempo Sea's attorney, Munding wrote:
"Harbor Crown Seafoods, Inc. has been determined to be insolvent as a result of the recent economic recession and will be closing its doors. As such it is unable to hire Alaska counsel to defend the Tempo matter and will allow judgment."
The e-mail concludes: "This is truly an unfortunate situation for all involved."
According to its Web site, Harbor Crown opened in 2003 as "a modern, mid-sized processing plant" with a vision of providing fishermen and consumers an alternative to the "international processing conglomerates."
Harbor Crown touted Pacific cod as its primary product, along with Alaska octopus and crab.