Dean Foods settles with Southeast Dairy Farmers

Southeast Dairy Farmers has announced a partial settlement in its class action lawsuit against Dean Foods, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), and others. Dean Foods, one of the principal defendants in the case, agreed to a $140 million settlement.

“We have reached a settlement with Dean Foods in the Southeast Dairy Farmers antitrust case filed on behalf of approximately 7,200 dairy farmers in the southeast,” said Robert G Abrams of Baker Hostetler, lead attorney for the plaintiffs.

“This is a very positive and successful resolution. We feel the settlement amount of $140 million speaks to Dean’s past activities in the Southeast and the impact those activities had on the dairy farmers,” Abrams said. “Significantly, in addition, the settlement also reflects action that Dean has taken toward restoring a more competitive market for southeast dairy producers.”

The case was originally filed in July 2007 against Dean Foods, the largest milk processor in the nation, and Dairy Farmers of America, the largest dairy cooperative in the country, and others.

“This is a significant, gratifying, and hard-fought victory for the dairy farmers of the Southeast, but the lawsuit is far from over. The trial against DFA and the other defendants is scheduled to begin August 16, 2011 in Greeneville TN,” said Abrams.

“The case is continuing against the remaining defendants, Dairy Farmers of America, Dairy Marketing Services, Southern Marketing Agency, National Dairy Holdings, and two individuals,” said Abrams. “Still at issue are charges that the remaining defendants conspired with each other and Dean Foods to stop competing for the purchase of raw Grade A milk from farmers and that, as a result, farmers were paid less for their milk.”

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