Got milk? If you bought milk or another dairy product from 2003 to 2011 and happened to live in one of the 16 affected locations, you may be eligible for a cash payout from a just-settled antitrust class-action lawsuit against dairy makers.
The Fresh Milk Products Price-Fixing Class Action Lawsuit, filed back in 2011 on behalf of dairy consumers, discovered that producers such as Dairy Farmers of America, DairyLea Cooperative, Land O’ Lakes, and Agrimark slaughtered about 500,000 cows to contain the supply of raw milk, which was expected to drive up dairy prices.
500,000 Cow Deaths
The lawsuit, initiated by animal abuse charity Compassion Over Killing, covers residents of Arizona, California, DC, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
“This cow-killing program exploited both the animals and the consumers, and resulted in the early deaths of half a million cows,” Cheryl Leahy, attorney for Compassion Over Killing, told Huffington Post over email.
The settlement, she added, is a statement against the dairy industry to not harm both humans and animals due to “simple greed without any accountability.”
Driving Up Prices
According to the suit, the Cooperatives Working Together, developed by the National Milk Producers Federation and to which the defendants belong, spearheaded a “herd retirement program” from 2003 to 2010, which consisted of dairy cooperatives buying out herds of cattle from smaller farms to be sent over for early slaughter.
“The purpose and effect … was to reduce the supply of raw farm milk in order to increase its price, which in turn increased the price paid by consumers for milk and other fresh milk products,” part of the complaint read.
In California, for instance, more fresh milk products are produced than in any other state. In 2008 alone, it was the top producer of yogurt and, along with New York, was the top maker of cottage cheese and source cream.
The inflated raw farm milk prices were then passed on to retailers and then to customers, the complaint proceeded.
Details Of Settlement
Eligible for the cash payout from the $52 million settlement money available are those who purchased milk or other fresh milk products, including half and half, cream, yogurt, cream cheese, cottage cheese, and sour cream, in the said areas from 2003 to 2011. The amount will depend on how many individuals submit their claim for the products.
The average claimant is likely to get higher or lower than $30, the Bought Milk website stated.
Potential claimants can fill out this form on the website or send it by mail by Jan. 31 to claim. Proof of purchase is not required, but there’s a little reminder of the penalty of perjury.
Otherwise, those who wanted to exclude themselves from the settlement and keep their right to sue the defendants were allowed to send a written request for exclusion. The court appointed Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP to represent the class, but one may still hire his or her own attorney at own expense.
Raw milk is milk coming from cows and other animals and in an unpasteurized form.