Consumers in 15 states and Washington, D.C., who purchased dairy products have mere hours left to claim a portion of a $52 million settlement culminating from a massive lawsuit filed against the nation’s largest dairy producers for allegedly artificially inflating the price of milk and other dairy products through a herd retirement program.
The suit was originally filed in 2011 against Land O’Lakes Inc. as well as the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), a.k.a. Cooperatives Working Together (CWT), Dairy Farmers of America Inc., Dairylea Cooperative Inc. and Agri-Mark Inc., according to the law firm Hagens Berman.
The class-action suit stated that defendants engaged in a nationwide conspiracy to limit the production of raw farm milk by prematurely slaughtering cows, illegally causing the price of milk and other fresh milk products to inflate artificially.
Under the terms of the agreement, CWT will pay $52 million to the plaintiff class in a combination of cash and in-store loyalty cards to be used for the purchase of fresh milk products.
Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and chief executive officer, said it is important to note that the court found no antitrust violation and that CWT has made no admission of wrongdoing in the settlement. The activity at issue in the litigation – the herd retirement program – has long since been terminated by CWT.
“Our CWT leadership team, with support from the CWT membership, has worked diligently to put this legacy issue behind us,” Mulhern said. “Settlement of this litigation is the most sensible and responsible course of action to maintain the current CWT Export Assistance program and allow us to focus on the future.”
Mulhern added that the CWT program is poised for a quick rebound and a strong future. “We will continue to focus on CWT’s present mission of providing member cooperatives with export assistance, creating new export market opportunities and continuing to look for innovative ways to increase sales of milk and dairy products for participating cooperatives,” he said.
Filing a claim
If you purchased milk or other fresh milk products (cream, half-and-half, yogurt, cottage cheese, cream cheese or sour cream) while a resident of Arizona, California, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin or Washington, D.C., at any point between 2003 and the present, you may be eligible for reimbursement.
Submit a claim form online at www.boughtmilk.com or by mail to Fresh Milk Products Antitrust Litigation, P.O. Box 43430, Providence, RI 02940-3430. Forms must be received by Jan. 31, 2017.
Those who submit a claim may opt for cash, with no proof of purchase required. If final approval is granted to the settlement, class members who have filed valid and timely claims will receive cash payments distributed directly into an online account of their choosing, e.g., Amazon, PayPal or Google Wallet account.
There will be two different levels of fixed cash payments based on a class member’s purchases and the total number of class members making claims. Any remaining funds may be distributed in a second round using grocery loyalty cards to be automatically loaded with a fixed dollar amount, based on triggering purchases of milk or fresh milk products in the relevant states or, depending on the funds remaining, distributed to the attorneys general for the class jurisdictions for use in prosecuting consumer antitrust claims.