The Settlement Administrator anticipates making the distribution approved by the Court, per the Order below, in early March 2017.
The following is a summary of information presented in more detail in the Notice of Partial Settlement of Action, August 19, 2014 Hearing Thereon, and Class Members' Rights (the "Notice"), which has been sent to Class Members via U.S. Mail and can be accessed by clicking on the link at the left. Since this is just a summary, you should read the full Notice for additional details.
The Class certified by the Court is defined as:
All persons who between April 1, 2004 through December 31, 2006: (1) purchased a CME Class III milk futures contract; (2) purchased a CME Cheese Spot Call contract for either blocks or barrels; (3) purchased cheese directly from Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. (“DFA”) or Schreiber Foods, Inc. (“Schreiber”) or made a first purchase of cheese from a first manufacturer of cheese (i.e., a manufacturer that transforms milk into cheese) pursuant to a contract the price term of which specified that the price was based, in whole or in part, on the CME Cheese Spot Call price (block or barrel price, average price, specific price, price formula, collar price or any variation that explicitly referenced the CME Cheese Spot Call price); or (4) purchased milk directly from DFA or made a first purchase of milk from a first producer of milk (e.g., a dairy farmer) that was made pursuant to a contract the price term of which specified that the price was based, in whole or in part, on (i) the CME Cheese Spot Call price (block or barrel price, average price, specific price, price formula, collar price or any variation that explicitly referenced the CME Cheese Spot Call price); (ii) the CME Class III milk futures price; (iii) the National Agricultural Statistics Service (“NASS”) cheese price; or (iv) a government milk formula price which included (i), (ii) or (iii) as a component of such government milk formula price. Excluded from the Class are the Settling Defendants, the Non-Settling Defendants, and any parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or agent of any Settling Defendant or Non-Settling Defendant.
SETTLEMENT HEARING AND THE RIGHT TO OBJECT
The Court has scheduled a public fairness hearing for August 19, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. (“Settlement Hearing”). The purpose of the Settlement Hearing is to determine, among other things, whether the proposed Settlement, the Plan of Allocation and the application by Lead Counsel for Class Counsel attorneys’ fees and reimbursement of Class Counsel’s expenses are fair, reasonable, and adequate. If you do not request exclusion from the Class, then you may object to any aspect of the Settlement, the Plan of Allocation, Class Counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees and expenses or any other matters. All objections must be made in accordance with the instructions set forth in number III of the Notice and must be filed with the Court and served on counsel for the Parties by July 28, 2014 or your objections(s) will not be considered. The Settlement Hearing is scheduled to take place on August 19, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. and will be held at the Everett McKinley Dirksen United States Courthouse, 219 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois, Courtroom 1919.
You should be aware that the time and date of the Settlement Hearing may be continued from time to time without further notice and you are advised to confirm the time and location if you wish to attend. Any such change will be posted on here, on the Settlement website.
WHAT THIS CASE IS ABOUT
In this Action, the Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs alleged (a) that DFA, Keller’s Creamery LP, Keller’s Creamery, L.L.C., Keller’s Creamery Management, LLC, Gary Hanman, Gerald Bos, Frank Otis, and Glenn Millar and unnamed co-conspirators, between April 1, 2004 and December 31, 2006 inclusive (“Class Period”), combined, conspired, and agreed to fix or manipulate the prices of CME Class III milk futures contracts, CME Cheese Spot Call contracts, and other contracts the price terms of which were based on the CME Cheese Spot Call price or certain government minimum milk price formulas in violation of the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”), 7 U.S.C. §§ 1, et seq., the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961, et seq., the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. §§1 and 2 et seq., and the Cartwright Act, California Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 16720, 16750, et seq., and (b) that the aforementioned Defendants also obtained unjust enrichment and are obligated to make restitution under the common law.
On March 13, 2009, certain Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs filed an initial class action complaint against Settling Defendants in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The Settlement provides substantial and immediate benefit to Class Members and avoids the risks that liability or damages might not be proven at trial.
The Settling Defendants have denied and continue to deny the Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs’ claims.
SUMMARY OF THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT
Defendant Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. (“DFA”) has paid, by wire transfer, into the Escrow Account the sum of forty-six million dollars ($46,000,000.00).
DFA undertakes, and its successors and assigns shall be bound to undertake, the remedial measures of implementing or continuing to maintain the following policies or guidelines: (a) Commodity Trading Policy; (b) periodic Commodity Trading Compliance Training; (c) Inventory Risk Management Policy; and (d) an “Oversight Committee” for the Inventory Risk Management Policy. Additionally, DFA will implement and maintain a compliance and ethics program designed to detect and prevent violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”). DFA will not transact in Class III milk futures contracts or Cheese Spot Call contracts, both listed on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (“CME”), with the specific intent to manipulate the prices of such contracts. For a period of two years from the Effective Date of the Settlement, DFA will only transact in such futures contracts for legitimate business purposes; and buy or sell CME Cheese Spot Call contracts only after the proposed transaction is reviewed and approved by at least two officers of DFA.
Based on the Plan of Allocation, 92.5% of the Net Settlement Fund shall be distributed to eligible Class members based on Plaintiffs’ experts’ artificiality estimates for qualifying transactions during the time period May 4, 2004 and June 25, 2004 and the time period September 1, 2004 and October 1, 2004 and 7.5% of the Net Settlement Fund shall be distributed to eligible Class members based on total dollar volumes of qualifying transactions during the time period April 1, 2004 through May 3, 2004, the time period June 26, 2004 through August 31, 2004 and the time period October 2, 2004 through December 31, 2006. Please review the Plan of Allocation, at the left side of this page, for further details.
OPTIONS FOR CLASS MEMBERS
As a Member of the Class, you may be entitled to share in the Net Settlement Fund if you submit a valid and timely Proof of Claim demonstrating that you have an Allowed Claim (as defined in the Plan of Allocation). The Proof of Claim, which includes instructions on how and when to make a claim, appears to the left of this page. You should read the Settlement Agreement and Proof of Claim and Release carefully before submitting your Proof of Claim or determining another course of action.
Exclude Yourself From The Settlement
To exclude yourself from the Class, you must submit a written request that includes all information requested in the Request for Exclusion form at the left of this page. Requests for Exclusion that do not include all of the requested information will be invalid.
Requests for exclusion from the Settlement must be sent by First-Class mail (preferably certified mail) to Lead Counsel, counsel for Defendants and the Settlement Administrator (see addresses below). Requests for Exclusion must be received no later than July 10, 2014.
If you exclude yourself from the Class, you will not be bound by the Settlement Agreement and can independently pursue claims you may have against the Settling Defendants at your own expense. However, if you exclude yourself, you will not be eligible to share in the Net Settlement Fund.
Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. Cheese Antitrust Litigation Settlement
c/o Rust Consulting, Inc.
P.O. Box 2428
Faribault, MN 55021-9128
If you are a Class Member who does not request to be excluded from the Settlement, you may appear at the Settlement Hearing in person or by counsel and may be heard, to the extent allowed by the Court, either in support of or in opposition to the fairness, reasonableness, and adequacy of the Settlement Agreement or any related matter (including the request for attorneys’ fees, the Plan of Allocation or any other matter).
However, no person shall be heard in opposition to the Settlement Agreement, and no papers or briefs submitted by or on behalf of any such person shall be accepted or considered by the Court, unless, by July 28, 2014, such person files the following with the Court and serves the same on or before such filing by hand or overnight mail on the Lead Counsel and counsel for Defendants: (i) if a Member of the Class intends to appear and be heard at the Settlement Hearing, a written notice of intention to appear; (ii) proof of membership in the Class; (iii) a detailed statement of the objections to any matters before the Court; (iv) a statement advising of any court proceeding in which said objector has made an objection to a proposed class action settlement within the past three years, including case name, docket number, and court; (v) if a Member of the Class intends to appear and be heard at the Settlement Hearing, the grounds or reasons why the Member of the Class desires to appear and be heard; and, (vi) all documents or writings the Member of the Class desires the Court to consider.
Lead Counsel for Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs
United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
Everett McKinley Dirksen
United States Courthouse
219 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL 60604
Lovell Stewart Halebian Jacobson LLP
61 Broadway, Suite 501
New York, New York 10006
Counsel for Defendants
William M. Hannay
Schiff Hardin LLP
233 South Wacker Drive, Suite 6600
Chicago, Illinois 60606
Amanda J. Metts
McDermott Will & Emery LLP
227 W. Monroe Street
Chicago, Illinois 60606
Ellen M. Wheeler
Foley & Lardner
321 North Clark Street, Suite 2800
Chicago, Illinois 60654
Glenn R. Reichardt
K&L Gates LLP
1601 K Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006
Further information regarding the Action, the Notice and how to file your claim may be obtained by contacting the Settlement Administrator or reading through the Notice and Proof of Claim links at the left.