European Court Affirms Ruling Against Dole on Banana Price-Fixing
The European Court of Justice has refused to void a lower court’s decision against Dole Foods confirming an $83 million fine shared with other companies resulting from a finding of collusion to fix the prices of bananas sold in several European countries. Dole Food & Dole Germany v. Commission, No. C-286/13 P (E.C.J., order entered March 19, 2015).
Dole sought to annul or reduce its fine, arguing the commission had not proven that the weekly communications between banana-producing companies just before prices were set were intended to fix prices. The company also argued that the lower court had lumped price quotes for green bananas and yellow bananas when the price-quoting schemes are separate. The prices of some bananas were set weeks before they were sold, while other companies sold their inventories at different times, Dole argued; as a result, the bananas from different companies were not in direct competition. The court disagreed, first finding that Dole could not argue new issues on appeal, then finding that the lower court properly considered how quotation prices work when ruling against Dole. “The claim that sales were not synchronized, even if it were proven, would not in any event affect the general court’s findings, based on evidence provided by the undertakings in question themselves from which it is apparent that green and yellow quotation prices were convertible and that Chiquita’s setting of the yellow quotation price was, of its own admission, influenced by the development of the quotation prices issued by Dole Food.”