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A second lawsuit in less than a week has been filed against Doheny Glatt Kosher Meat Market and its owner Michael Engelman.
The Rabbinical Council of California stripped Doheny market of its kosher certification on Mar. 24 — the day before the first night of Passover — after seeing video footage shot by a private investigator.
Engelman is allegedly seen in the video smuggling unknown meat into the store while the rabbinic supervisor was not present.
"The RCC estimates Engelman brought a total of approximately 1,200 pounds of animal products into the store over the weeks he was under surveillance," reports the LA Jewish Journal.
According to the council, Engleman initially denied any wrongdoing but later "admitted to bringing unauthorized products to the store on two to three occasions," LAJJ reported. He claimed, they said, the meat was kosher, just not "glatt kosher," which requires the animal undergoing ritualistic slaughter has lungs that are "smooth" and free of defects.
Engelman was not immediately reached for comment by CNS or AP. He also did not return repeated calls by LAJJ requesting comment. They report that "[Engelman] has not spoken on the record since the scandal began."
Battery, Emotional Distress, Negligence: The Lawsuits
The lawsuit, filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court by Parham Zar, alleges fraud, breach of contract, battery and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Zar says in the suit "this was not an isolated incident, but in fact it was the custom and practice of defendants to advertise their products as Glatt Kosher when in fact they were not, thus commanding higher prices."
A similar lawsuit filed last Tuesday by Joshua Fard who wants to add other plaintiffs and make it a class-action case. Fard contends that thousands of the market’s patrons were misled and suffered emotional distress after finding out the products were not authentic.
Both lawsuits claim that"battery" occurred because Engelman intended both plaintiffs to "purchase, touch and consume the non-Glatt Kosher meat."
The Doheny Glatt Kosher Meat Market at 9213 W. Pico Boulevard is now under new ownership, and, going forward, will abide especially strict supervision to attain "mehadrin kashrus" standards, reports The Jewish Daily Forward.
Shlomo Rechnitz — son-in-law of Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, the religious arbiter who ruled all meat sold by Doheny market prior to March 24 was considered kosher — was asked by the RCC to buy the store in order to ensure a dependable source of kosher food for L.A.'s observant community.
Rechnitz purchased the shop and its distribution arm for an undisclosed sum. Initially he said he considered making the purchase as "a favor to the community," but became more hopeful about its business potential during the negotiations, reports the LA Jewish Journal:
Engelman told him that Doheny’s gross sales on the retail and distribution sides added up to approximately $8 million a year....That said, Rechnitz said he hopes to remain a mostly silent investor in Doheny, and won’t aim to build its market share at the expense of other distributors.
Doheny is believed to supply as much as 50 percent of the kosher meat and poultry in Los Angeles; its disappearance would have significantly reduced competition in the marketplace, which, Rechnitz said, "would have destroyed the kosher market in Los Angeles."
Rechnitz told LAJJ that money might not have been the motive for Engelman's alleged actions, and "speculated that it may have been due to anger Engelman felt towards his main supplier, Agri Star."
In 2009, Agri Star bought the Postville plant from the bankrupt Rubashkin-owned firm AgriProcessors, which had been shut down in the aftermath of the largest immigration raid in American history.