According to a news source, two antitrust lawsuits were filed in a California federal court this week alleging that dairy trade groups and coops manipulated dairy prices between 2003 and 2010 under a program that slaughtered more than 500,000 cows. The suits reportedly allege that the National Milk Producers Federation and major dairy farmer cooperatives, under a “dairy herd retirement program,” cost consumers in excess of $9.5 billion. Plaintiff’s counsel Steve Berman released a statement claiming that the lawsuits, brought on behalf of individual consumers in California, New York and Wisconsin, as well as Compassion Over Killing, “will protect consumers from artificially inflated milk prices and also will prevent the unnecessary and shameful killing of tens of thousands of cows each year.”
One of the lawsuits, Edwards v. National Milk Producers Federation, seeks to certify 27 state classes and a District of Columbia class, alleging violation of state antitrust and restraint of trade laws and unjust enrichment. The plaintiffs seek declaratory relief; restitution for the purchase of milk or fresh milk products “at inflated prices”; actual, statutory, punitive, or treble damages; interest; restitution and/or disgorgement; costs; attorney’s fees; and interest. See Hagens Berman Press Release, September 27, 2011; The National Law Journal, September 29, 2011.