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In Re: Fresh and Process Potatoes Antitrust Litigation
United States District Court for the District of Idaho Eastern Division
MDL No. 2186
Please be advised that we will begin mailing the distribution to claimants who filed a valid claim relating to this matter on August 2, 2016. The checks from this initial distribution were stale as of October 31, 2017 and are now void. Requests for reissues must be emailed to info@PotatoesIndirectPurchaseAction.com. Please continue to check this website for further updates.
If you purchased Fresh Potatoes directly from Defendants, or certain potato growers, packers, or marketers you may be a Class Member in a proposed class action settlement. Please review the information provided on this web site and/or in the Notice.
This lawsuit claims that Defendants and their alleged co-conspirators illegally formed a cartel to reduce the supply of potatoes with the goal of raising prices in violation of the antitrust laws. As a result, retail Fresh Potato purchasers (Indirect Purchasers) may have paid more than was necessary.
The alleged conspiracy was orchestrated by competitors in the potato growing, packing, processing, and marketing industry. These competitors included "grower defendants," "shed and marketing defendants," "dehydrator defendants," and the potato cooperatives to which they belonged ─ the United Potato Growers of Idaho, the United Potato Growers of America, and United II Potato Growers of Idaho. A complete list of the Defendants is provided at Question 8 in the Indirect Purchaser Notice which is located by going to the Class Notice tab.
Indirect Purchasers allege that these Defendants reduced the potato supply by agreeing to limit the number of potato acres planted each year and to divert Fresh Potatoes into the processing market, and by manipulating the supply of potatoes placed in storage after harvest. Indirect Purchasers also allege that the Defendants agreed to minimum Fresh Potato prices. Defendants' agreements were facilitated by weekly state and national conference calls among themselves and others.
For purposes of the Settlement, "Fresh Potatoes" are potatoes grown in the United States and planted exclusively for and sold to the Fresh Potato market. Fresh Potatoes do not include process potatoes, which are sold for further processing, including dehydrating, freezing, canning, chipping, dicing, slicing, chopping, and packaging.
The Court has not found in favor of Indirect Purchasers or Defendants. The Indirect Purchasers and Defendants have agreed to this Settlement which, if it is approved, will bring the claims against the Defendants to an end. That way, the Indirect Purchasers and Defendants avoid the uncertainty of continuing the case and the cost of further litigation, and class members will get the benefits of the Settlement.
The Settlement provides for injunctive relief ending some of Defendants' business practices designed to restrict the supply of potatoes. Thus, Defendants are prohibited from participating in agreements setting the number of potato-plantable acres or otherwise setting the amount of potatoes that any potato producer will grow. In addition, the Co-Op Defendants and their successor entities will register to do business as a "cooperative" in the 14 states and will work with qualified antitrust compliance counsel to ensure their compliance with applicable law. They also will adopt membership rules requiring an agreement to abide by these rules. The rules expire after seven years. In addition, Defendants will pay $5,500,000 into a Settlement Fund, out of which valid claims will be paid.
The Class Representatives and their attorneys think the Settlement is in the best interests of the classes. The Court held a public Fairness Hearing on December 3, 2015 at 3:30 p.m. to determine whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. The Court also considered whether to award attorneys’ fees and expenses to Class Counsel and service awards to the Class Representatives for their work on the case. The motion(s) will be posted in the Court Documents section of this website.
You can no longer file a claim relating to this matter. A copy of the Notice is available to review or print by going to the Class Notice tab.