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Image: Prada

Prada’s pricey alligator accessories have been at the center of a multi-million dollar legal battle between the Italian design house and a Florida-based alligator contractor. To be exact, $1.2 million worth of alligator hatchlings (in one case) and $2 million in hatchings and grown alligators (in another) – that ultimately would be used to create those accessories – are what gave rise to a bi-national fight, which got its start in 2017 when alligator supplier Caporicci USA Corp. allegedly failed to provide Prada with the 15,000 hatchlings it had paid for.

When Miami-based Caporicci – which is “a commissioned representative securing quality American alligator skins, or hides, for [wholesale] customers in Europe” – refused to refund Prada more than $600,000 after failing to provide thousands of alligator hatchlings, Prada took the matter before an arbitrator in Milan.

Following arbitration proceedings before the National and International Arbitration Court of Milan, centering on what a spokesman for Prada called “serious breaches committed by Capo-USA in relation to a contract for sales and services involving alligator breeding,” the tribunal found early this year that Caporicci had, in fact, breached its agreement with Prada and ordered it to repay $633,213 for the hatchlings it failed to obtain and to deliver to Prada 3,761 hatchlings. Prada has since asked a federal court in Miami to “enforce the arbitration tribunal’s decision,” according to the Sun Sentinel, but faced pushback from Caporicci, which asked the court to hold off its decision until proceedings in a separate but related suit are concluded.

It turns out, shortly after Prada initiated arbitration in Milan, Caporicci initiated proceedings of its own against a number of defendants, including Prada, in late 2017 over a separate deal-gone-wrong case. According the multi-million dollar breach of contract lawsuit that Caporicci filed in a Florida state court, a deal with Prada involving 700 young alligators and 26 full-grown alligators went south.

Caporicci argued that it had established a supply chain of alligators hatchlings in America that would ultimately be exported to Prada in Milan, but the relationship took a turn when the famed fashion house and one of its vendors GNP Pelli di Pezzoli Gian Andrea allegedly cut Caporicci out of its agreed-upon broker’s commission in connection with a deal with three American alligator farms.

According to Caporicci’s suit, Prada and GNP Pelli “intentionally and unjustifiably” interfered with its relationship with other alligator vendors. The company argued that it had arranged for the transport of 726 alligators to a farm in Louisiana, which would “raise those alligators for harvest and hides and for Prada,” only to be cut out of “its commissioned representative arrangement.”

As a result, Caporicci asserted that “GNP Pelli has received millions of dollars of alligator skins [for Prada] and failed to pay [the proper] commissions,” thereby giving rise to damages of upwards of $2 million.

That case – Caporicci U.S.A. Corp. v. Prada S.p.A. et al, 1:18-cv-20859 – is still underway in Florida’s Southern District Court.