In re Southeast Milk Antitrust Litigation Website
The Net Settlement Funds (third distribution) for the Dean and SMA/Baird settlement were distributed on November 26, 2014.    

The Net Settlement Fund with Defendants Dairy Farmers of America, Dairy Marketing Services, Mid-Am Capital, National Dairy Holdings, LP, and Gary Hanman distributed on December 19, 2013.    

This website provides general information on a dairy farmer class action involving raw Grade A milk sales in the Southeast.

What Is the Case About?

The lawsuit claims Defendants and alleged Co-Conspirators violated federal antitrust laws in the purchase, sale, and marketing of raw Grade A milk in Federal Milk Marketing Orders 5 and 7. The lawsuit also claims Defendant Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. (“DFA”) breached the contractual terms of its membership agreement and bylaws by failing to operate for the benefit and advantage of its members as farmers. As a result, the lawsuit claims prices paid to dairy farmers in Orders 5 and 7 for raw Grade A milk were lower than they otherwise would have been. Defendants deny that they did anything wrong.

  • Defendants: Dean Foods Co., DFA, Dairy Marketing Services, LLC (“DMS”), Mid-Am Capital, LLC (“Mid-Am”), National Dairy Holdings, LP (“NDH”), Southern Marketing Agency, Inc. (“SMA”), James Baird, and Gary Hanman (“Haman”)
  • Alleged Co-Conspirators: Dairy.com, Inc., The Kroger Co., Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc., Robert W. Allen, Jay Bryant, Herman Brubaker, Gregg L. Engles, Michael J. McCloskey, Allen A. Meyer, and Pete Schenkel.
  • Orders 5 and 7 (“Southeast”): All of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, and parts of Florida, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Who Is in the Class?

In general, all dairy farmers, whether individuals or entities, who produced Grade A milk within Orders 5 or 7 and sold Grade A milk directly or through an agent to Defendants or Co-Conspirators in Orders 5 or 7 during any time from January 1, 2001 to the present.

The Class has two parts: a “DFA Settlement Subclass” and an “Independent Subclass” defined below:

  • Independent Dairy Farmer and Independent Cooperative Member Subclass (“Independent Subclass”) - All independent dairy farmers and independent cooperative members (whether individuals or entities) who produced Grade A milk within Orders 5 or 7 and sold Grade A milk directly or through an agent to Defendants or Co‐Conspirators in Orders 5 or 7 during any time from January 1, 2001 to the present. The terms “independent dairy farmer” and “independent cooperative member” refer to Southeast dairy farmers who were not members of DFA at the time of their Grade A milk sales.

  • DFA Member Dairy Farmer Subclass (“DFA Settlement Subclass”) - All DFA members (whether individuals or entities) who produced Grade A milk within Orders 5 or 7 and sold Grade A milk directly or through an agent to Defendants or Co‐Conspirators in Orders 5 or 7 during any time from January 1, 2001 to the present. The term “DFA member dairy farmer” refers to Southeast dairy farmers who were members of DFA at the time of their Grade A milk sales.

Are there any settlements?

On January 21, 2013 the Court was asked to approve a proposed settlement with Defendants DFA, DMS, NDH, Mid-Am, and Hanman. This settlement is in the amount of 158.6 million dollars, plus changes in the way these Defendants conduct their business in the Southeast. If approved by the Court, the settlement will provide payments to dairy farmers who submit valid claim forms and you may be eligible. More details will be available in the Notice that will be mailed in early February of 2013.

A $140 million settlement with Dean and a settlement with SMA and Baird for $5 million plus certain structural changes were previously approved by the Court and distribution of the Settlement Funds occurred on January 18, 2013.

Who represents the Class?

The Court appointed the following law firms as Class Counsel to represent the Class:

Independent Subclass
Robert G. Abrams
BAKER & HOSTETLER LLP
1050 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
(202) 861-1500
DFA Subclass
Gary E. Brewer
BREWER & TERRY, P.C.
1702 W. Andrew Johnson Hwy.
Morristown, TN 37814
(423) 587-2730

What are your Options for the Proposed Settlement with Defendants DFA, DMS, NDH, Mid-Am, and Hanman?

Stay in the Class: If you are a Member of the Class currently certified, you do not have to do anything to stay in the Class.

Get Back in the Class for the settlement: If you previously decided you did not want to participate in the lawsuit and excluded yourself – you may apply to the Court to be reinstated (“opt back in”) to the Class for the purpose of participating in the proposed settlement. If you excluded yourself and do not opt back in, you will not receive any benefit that may be obtained as a result of this lawsuit. You also will not be bound by any Court orders or jury verdicts and you keep your right to sue Defendants DFA, DMS, NDH, Mid-Am, and Haman, and Gerald Bos, on your own regarding the issues in this case.

To opt back into the class: You must mail a letter that says you previously excluded yourself from the Southeastern Milk Class but wish to opt back in. Include your name, your address, the name of your farm, the farm’s address, your telephone number, and signature(s) of all farm owners. Your request to opt back in must be submitted to the Class Action Administrator, along with a completed and signed Claim Form, received no later than March 20, 2013. Mail requests to opt back in to:

SE Dairy Farm Class – Opt Back In
c/o Rust Consulting, Inc.
P.O. Box 2392
Faribault, MN 55021-9092

Object to the Settlement: Any Member of the Class who objects to the proposed settlement with Defendants DFA, DMS, NDH, Mid-Am, and Haman must do so in writing. Objections must contain caption of the case, be signed, and be filed with the Court no later than fourteen (14) days prior to the April 3, 2013 Fairness Hearing. The Notice that will be mailed in February of 2013 will provide more information on filing an objection.

IMPORTANT: THIS SITE IS NOT OPERATED BY FEDERAL MILK MARKET ORDERS 5 OR 7. THIS WEBSITE IS SUPERVISED BY CLASS COUNSEL. THE NOTICE ADMINISTRATOR HANDLES ALL ASPECTS OF NOTICING. THIS IS THE AUTHORIZED WEBSITE FOR THIS CLASS ACTION. PLEASE DO NOT RELY UPON OTHER SITES THAT SET OUT DIFFERENT AND UNAUTHORIZED INFORMATION.