Dean Foods reaches settlement in antitrust case

by Keith Nunes
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DALLAS — The Dean Foods Co. has reached a preliminary settlement in an antitrust case brought against the company, as well as Dairy Farmers of America (D.F.A.), Kansas City, by dairy producers in the northeast. If the preliminary settlement is accepted by the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont, Dean Foods will pay $30 million in monetary damages and agree to purchase raw milk from multiple northeastern sources.

“We are pleased that a settlement with Dean has been reached and look forward to a timely court of approval,” said Robert Abrams of Howrey L.L.P., one of the law firms representing the dairy producers.

“Dean has not admitted any wrongdoing, and is confident that it has conducted its business lawfully and fairly,” the company said in a statement. “As part of the settlement, Dean Foods has committed to offer to purchase a portion of its raw milk requirements directly from marketers other than its co-defendants. This is consistent with changes that Dean Foods began to implement last year, and reflects the evolution of the company’s supply chain infrastructure.”

Filed in October 2009, the class action lawsuit charged Dean Foods and the D.F.A. with monopolizing the distribution of fluid milk in the Northeast and forcing dairy producers to join the D.F.A.

Kit A. Pierson of the law firm Cohen Milstein said the lawsuit against the D.F.A. will continue. The D.F.A. and its affiliate Dairy Marketing Services have been accused in the lawsuit of engaging in monopolization, price fixing and other anticompetitive conduct.

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