The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee granted final approval of the $158.6 million settlement in the ongoing Southeast Milk Antitrust Litigation lawsuit brought by BakerHostetler’s antitrust lawyers.
Judge J. Ronnie Greer’s May 17, 2013 order approved the third settlement in the case. It was entered between plaintiffs and defendant Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and its related entities and included payments of $158.6 million. The two previous settlements were reached in July 2011 with defendants Dean Foods for $140 million and Southern Marketing Agency and James Baird for $5 million plus changes in milk marketing conduct. In total, the BakerHostetler team recovered more than $300 million for the class, which represents more than 70 percent of the estimated damages in the case.
In addition to the monetary award, DFA agreed to change its business conduct in the Southeast, including taking steps to increase raw milk prices; removing cancellation penalties on certain full-supply agreements with bottling plants and not entering into new full-supply agreements during the settlement’s term; modifying membership agreements to improve farmer ability to change cooperatives; enhancing price-related information on milk checks; boosting transparency through auditing and disclosure commitments; and facilitating delegate votes on additional meaningful changes to conduct.
The BakerHostetler team working on behalf of the certified class of Southeastern dairy farmers was led by group chair Bob Abrams and includes Robert Brookhiser, Gregory Commins, Jr, Joanne Lichtman, Terry Sullivan, William DeVinney, Dan Foix, Carey Busen, Bridget Merritt and Nicole Skolout.