Second Circuit Upholds Milk Price-Fixing Settlement
The Second Circuit has upheld the $50 million settlement of an alleged milk price-fixing conspiracy, holding that “[b]y their nature, settlements are compromises that do not provide either side with all that they might have hoped to obtain in litigation.” Haar v. Allen, No. 161944 (2d Cir., order entered April 18, 2017). The class action asserted that Dairy Farmers of America, Inc., Dairy Marketing Services and Dean Foods Co. conspired to suppress competition and fix prices of raw milk in the Northeast. The appellants argued that the settlement was the result of collusion between class counsel and opposing counsel and that members of the class were coerced into participation. The Second Circuit disagreed, finding the appellants confused “counsel’s willingness to negotiate in good faith toward a settlement with collusion,” noting that the district court found no evidence of impropriety after a lengthy hearing into claims of misconduct. The court also rejected allegations of coercion, pointing to evidence of substantial support for the settlement by other litigants and noting that the district court had rejected as insufficient an earlier settlement that failed to expressly provide farmers the right to opt out.