First Impressions Salon, Inc., et al. v. National Milk Producers Federation, et al., Case No. 3:13-CV-00454-NJR-GCS
A Court has established, or "certified," this case as a class action lawsuit. The Notice is to inform you that a $220 million settlement has been reached. If you are a Class Member, you have legal rights and options before the Court decides whether to give final approval to the settlement. The Notice explains all of these things.
Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois (the “Court”), is currently overseeing this case. The case is known as First Impressions Salon, Inc., et al. v. National Milk Producers Federation, et al., Case No. 3:13-CV-00454-NJR-GCS. The people who sued are called the Plaintiffs. The companies they sued, Agri-Mark, Inc., Dairy Farmers of America, Inc., Land O’Lakes, Inc., and National Milk Producers Federation are called the Defendants.
Click here to review a copy of the Notice.Back To Top
In a class action, one or more people called "Named Plaintiffs" (in this case, First Impressions Salon, Inc., Roy Mattson, Piggly Wiggly Midwest, LLC, and KPH Healthcare Services d/b/a Kinney Drugs, Inc.) sue on behalf of people who have similar claims. All these people are a “Class” or “Class Members.” One court resolves the issues for all Class Members, except for those who exclude themselves from the Class.Back To Top
In the Third Amended Consolidated Class Action Complaint (the “Complaint”, available here), Plaintiffs claim that from December 6, 2008, through July 31, 2013, Defendants violated the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. §1, and conspired and combined to limit the production of raw farm milk through premature “herd retirements” that required participating dairy farmers to remove all of the milking cows in their herds and, beginning on April 1, 2009, forego a 10% incentive payment if they wished to reenter the dairy farming business within one year. The Complaint alleges that the principal purpose and effect of this contract, combination, and conspiracy has been to eliminate competition, significantly reduce the number of dairy farmers competing in the market, and produce both short-term and long-term increases in the prices of butter and cheese. Defendants deny these claims.Back To Top
The Court has not decided in favor of the Plaintiffs or Defendants. Instead, both sides have agreed to the Settlement. By agreeing to a settlement, the parties avoid the costs and uncertainty of a trial, and if the settlement is approved by the Court, Class Members will be eligible to receive a payment from this settlement. The settlement does not mean that any law was broken or that the Defendants did anything wrong. The Defendants deny all legal claims in this case. Plaintiffs and their lawyers think the settlement is best for everyone who is affected.Back To Top
On September 29, 2017, the Court has decided that everyone who fits the following description is a Class Member:
A notice was subsequently issued as ordered by the Court in which affected businesses and individual purchasers were required to submit a request for exclusion by July 30, 2018 if they did not want to stay in the Class.Back To Top
The Court decided that the deadline to request exclusion from the Class was July 30, 2018. Since that deadline has now passed, you cannot request exclusion from the Class at this time.Back To Top
The “Members” are the CWT members listed as follows:
|Agri-Mark, Inc.||Arkansas Dairy Cooperative Association||Associated Milk Producers Inc.|
|Bongards Creameries||Burke Milk Producers Cooperative, Inc.||California Dairies Inc.|
|Cass-Clay Creamery Inc.||Champlain Milk Producers Cooperative||Conesus Milk Producers Cooperative Association, Inc.|
|Continental Dairy Products, Inc.||Cooperative Milk Producers Association, Inc.||Cortland Bulk Milk Producers Cooperative|
|Dairy Farmers of America||Dairylea Cooperative Inc.||Dairymen's Marketing Cooperative Inc.|
|Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery||Empire Keystone Cooperative||Farmers Cooperative Creamery|
|First District Cooperative Association||Foremost Farms USA||Humboldt Creamery Association|
|Jefferson Bulk Milk Cooperative, Inc.||Just Jersey Cooperative, Inc.||Land O'Lakes, Inc.|
|Lone Star Milk Producers||Lowville Producers Dairy Cooperative||Magic Valley Quality Milk Producers, Inc.|
|Manitowoc Milk Producers Cooperative||Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association||Massachusetts Coop. Milk Producers Fed. Inc.|
|Michigan Milk Producers Association||Mid-West Dairymen's Co.||Mount Joy Farmers Cooperative Association|
|National Farmers Organization||North Lawrence Producers Cooperative, Inc.||Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold)|
|Oneida-Madison Milk Producers Cooperative||Prairie Farms Dairy||Preble Cooperative, River Valley Milk Producers Inc.|
|Schoharie County Cooperative Dairies||Seaway Bulk Milk Producers Cooperative, Inc.||Security Milk Producers Association|
|Select Milk Producers, Inc.||Snake River Dairymen's Association||South New Berlin Milk Cooperative, Inc.|
|Southeast Milk, Inc.||St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, Inc.||Swiss Valley Farms, Co.|
|Tillamook County Creamery Association||United Dairy Cooperative Services, Inc.||United Dairymen of Arizona|
|Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc.||Utah Dairy Farmers Cooperative||Western Tier Milk Producers Cooperative|
|Zia Milk Producers Inc.|
In order to be a Class Member, you must have bought butter and/or cheese directly from one of the CWT members listed in FAQ 7.Back To Top
Yes. Though most Class Members are larger entities, some butter and cheese products were sold at CWT co-op stores directly to individual consumers. Click here to see a list of those stores and their locations.Back To Top
If you are still not sure whether you are included in the Class, you can call the toll-free number 1-855-804-8574, or write to Class Action Administrator, P.O. Box 4290, Portland, OR 97208-4290 for more information.Back To Top
As part of the settlement, the National Milk Producers Federation will deposit $220 million into a Settlement Fund. These monies will be deposited in installments over approximately the next four years as described in detail in the Settlement Agreement, which is posted here.
The settlement provides that payments to Class Members will be allocated as follows:
Payments to Class Members will be comprised of the $220 million plus applicable accrued interest, minus the following: attorneys’ fees and expenses, payments to the Named Plaintiffs, notice costs, administration costs, and taxes. For more information on attorneys’ fees and payments to the Named Plaintiffs, see FAQ 13 and FAQ 14.Back To Top
If the Court approves the settlement (see FAQ 16) and any resulting appeals are resolved, the Court will approve a Plan of Distribution including a Claim Form and a deadline for Class Members to submit claims. In order to get a payment from the settlement, you must submit a Claim Form.
To be a Class Member who could be eligible for a payment, you must have purchased butter or cheese made by a CWT Member. If you are a consumer, you must have purchased butter or cheese made by a CWT Member at one of the dairy co-op stores. The list of CWT Members along with their store names and locations is provided in the List of Co-op Stores and Locations.
If you received the notice in the mail, a Claim Form will be sent to you automatically and you do not need to do anything at this time to be eligible to receive a payment from the settlement in the future.
If you did not receive the notice in the mail, and you think you are a potential Class Member, please identify yourself or your company to the Settlement Administrator as a potential Class Member by letter to the following address: Butter and Cheese Class Action, PO Box 4290, Portland, OR 97208-4290, email to: info@ButterandCheeseClassAction.com, or register here, so you can obtain a Claim Form once it is available. You will then be mailed a Claim Form once the Court has approved the Plan of Distribution. The Claim Form will also be posted on the Documents page at that time.Back To Top
The Court appointed as Co-Lead Class Counsel: Don Barrett of Barrett Law Group, Lexington, Mississippi, Dianne M. Nast of NastLaw LLC, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Michael L. Roberts of Roberts Law Firm, P.A., Dallas, Texas to represent you. You do not have to pay Class Counsel out of your own pocket. If you want to be represented by another lawyer, you may hire one to appear in Court for you at your own expense.Back To Top
The Court will be asked to approve attorneys’ fees of up to 33.33% of the $220 million Settlement Fund plus interest and reimbursement of the attorneys’ expenses. The Court will also be asked to approve payments to the Named Plaintiffs for their service on behalf of the entire Class. These payments to Class Counsel and the Named Plaintiffs will be made from the Settlement Fund.Back To Top
If you are a Class Member, you can object to any part of the Settlement, including the request for attorneys’ fees and expenses and payments to the Named Plaintiffs.
To object to the Settlement, you must send a letter with the following information:
You must mail your objection to the following addresses postmarked by March 17, 2020:
|Clerk of the Court||Co-Lead Class Counsel||National Milk’s Counsel|
Clerk, U.S. District Court
Southern District of Illinois
750 Missouri Ave.
East St. Louis, IL 62201
Michael L. Roberts
Roberts Law Firm
1920 McKinney Ave.
Dallas, TX 75201
Jonathan B. Sallet
Attorney At Law
1101 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036
Steptoe & Johnson, LLP
1330 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036
The Court has scheduled a Fairness Hearing on April 27, 2020, at 1:30pm, at the United States District Court Southern District of Illinois, Courtroom 3, 750 Missouri Avenue East, St. Louis, IL 62201. The hearing may be moved to a different date or time without additional notice, so it is a good idea to check this site for updates.
At this hearing, the Court will consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. The Court may also consider the requests by Class Counsel for attorneys’ fees and expenses and for payments to the Named Plaintiffs. If there are objections, the Court will consider them at that time. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the Settlement. It is unknown how long these decisions will take.
Any judgment issued by the Court will be binding on the Class. The Settlement, if approved by the Court and once any appeals are resolved, will release all claims in the class action. The specific release of claims is provided in the Settlement Agreement, which can be found here.Back To Top
No. Class Counsel will answer any questions the Court may have. However, you are welcome to attend the hearing at your own expense. If you send an objection, you do not have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you submitted your written objection on time, to the proper addresses, and it complies with the other requirements provided in FAQ 15, the Court will consider it. You also may pay your own lawyer to attend the hearing, but this is not necessary.Back To Top
If you have properly submitted an objection (see FAQ 15), you may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Final Approval Hearing about the reasons you do not like the Settlement, or any part of it.
Any Class Member who wishes to appear at the Final Approval Hearing must file with the Clerk of the Court a “Notice of Intention to Appear,” which must be received by April 13, 2020, with copies sent to the counsel addresses listed in FAQ 15.Back To Top
More information is available here, where you will find the Order Granting Class Certification, the Complaint that the Plaintiffs lodged, and the Defendants’ Joint Answer to Plaintiffs’ Third Amended Consolidated Class Action Complaint. You may also call toll-free at 1-855-804-8574 or write to Class Action Administrator, P.O. Box 4290, Portland, OR 97208-4290.
Do not contact any of the CWT Members for information regarding this lawsuit.Back To Top