OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – Major dairy
producers in the United States are set to pay $52 million in a settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed against them which alleged a conspiracy
to jack up the prices of milk and milk products.
lawsuit against defendants National Milk Producers Federation, otherwise known
as Cooperatives Working Together, Dairy Farmers of America, Land O’ Lakes,
Dairylea Cooperative and Agri-Mark reached a settlement agreement with
petitioners headed by Matthew Edwards. A hearing at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Oakland Division, is scheduled on Dec. 16.
At that hearing, the judge is to determine whether the settlement agreement will
be granted approval or another course of action will be taken. It will be
reviewed whether the amount offered is fair, adequate and reasonable enough to
dismiss the class-action lawsuit. If deemed otherwise, the judge could order
the lawsuit to go on and deny the settlement agreement.
If approved, the
settlement agreement would include all individuals who bought milk or milk
products in Arizona, California, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan,
Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee,
Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. The period
covered is from 2003 to 2011.
In his statement
regarding the case, Hagens Berman managing partner Steve Berman, plaintiffs' representative, expressed his
pleasure over the settlement agreement. Citing allegedly fraudulent schemes employed
by the major dairy producers, he pointed out that the settlement would give
back the money owed to the consumers who fell victim to the schemes.
dairy producers in the country, responsible for almost 70 percent of the
nation’s milk, conspired together in a classic price-fixing scheme, forcing
higher prices for a basic food item onto honest consumers and families,” Berman
said via Business
Wire. The managing partner added, “We’re pleased that this settlement will
return some of what consumers lost due to this massive fraud perpetrated for
Berman also disclosed
that the disbursement method for the settlement payments to the consumers is a
simple process. According to the lawyer, the convenience is the least the corporations
could offer following the consequences suffered by the consumers due to the allegedly fraudulent
scheme. Affected individuals could file their claims online or by mail on or
before Jan. 21, 2017. The online claim form takes approximately three to
five minutes to complete. Moreover, no proof of purchase is required.
“With this settlement, we
are happy to offer those affected an incredibly easy reimbursement process,
with no proof of purchase required. After being duped by big dairy
corporations, we wanted consumers to have a convenient method of payment,” Berman said, according to Business Wire.
If the court grants approval
to the settlement agreement, the qualified claimants are eligible to receive cash
payments through different channels. They can choose to claim their cash via
several online accounts such as Amazon, PayPal, and Google Wallet. There will
be two levels of fixed cash payments in accordance with the purchases made by the
class member and the total number of individuals who submit the