Land O'Lakes settles in egg price fixing case

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: United egg producers

A partial settlement in the class action over egg price fixing has been reached with three of the defendants, Land O’Lakes and subsidiaries Moark LLC and Norco Ranch, according to one of the law firm representing the plaintiffs.

Co-lead counsel Bernstein Liebhard LLP stated today that pursuant to the settlement - which was submitted to the court for preliminary approval on June 4 - three of the defendants have agreed to pay $25m to settle antitrust claims brought on behalf of direct purchasers of shell eggs and egg products.

The case, filed in 2008, is one of three consolidated actions filed against 16 trade groups and producers alleging an industry-wide, price-fixing conspiracy that raised the price of shell eggs and egg products in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Between August 2007 and March 2008, egg prices nationwide skyrocketed by more than 40 percent and at the fastest rates in 30 years.

Plaintiffs allege that the defendants, egg producers and trade groups, conspired to restrict egg supply through cage space requirements, as well as coordinated molting schedules and hen reductions, and that they also exported eggs at a loss in order to reduce domestic supplies and raise prices.

In addition to the monetary settlement, the settling defendants have agreed to provide information and documents concerning meetings and discussions with the remaining defendants regarding price-fixing efforts, said Bernstein Liebhard.

The remaining defendants in the action include Cal-Maine Foods, Michael Foods, and Rose Acre Farms as well as trade groups United Egg Producers and US Egg Marketers.

Land O'Lakes spokeswoman Jeanne Forbis told the Associated Press that "Settling the case avoids the expense and distraction of protracted litigation, enabling Moark and its Norco Ranch subsidiary to focus their time and resources on providing economical and high-quality eggs to customers and consumers."

The settlement still must be approved by the court.

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