Dairy AmericaPractice Area: Antitrust
Carlin v. Dairy America, Inc. (E.D. Cal.)
On August 7, 2012, a federal appeals court reversed a lower court’s dismissal of this national class action lawsuit accusing DairyAmerica, Inc., and California Dairies, Inc., of artificially depressing the price of milk products.
The case claims that the nation’s largest marketer of nonfat dry milk and the California-based milk processing firm inflated their own profits at the expense of America’s dairy farmers by misreporting critical data used by the government to set raw milk prices. The dairy farmer plaintiffs seek compensation for the millions of dollars lost due to this alleged price manipulation.
In overturning the February 2010 U.S. District Court ruling, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth District considered the “filed rate doctrine,” which bars certain lawsuits from recovering damages when government agencies, such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), approve rates or prices for regulated industries, including the dairy industry. The Court of Appeals ruled that the filed rate doctrine did not preclude dairy farmers from suing the dairy firms in this case because the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service had concluded that the pricing data was incorrect.
On May 29, 2009, the Court appointed Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC sole interim class counsel in Carlin v. Dairy America, Inc. (E.D. Cal.), a case in which Cohen Milstein represents a proposed class of dairy farmers who allege that defendants negligently and incorrectly reported nonfat dry milk prices to the National Agricultural Statistics service, resulting in artificially depressed raw milk prices that unfairly deprived American dairy farmers of millions of dollars. In appointing the firm interim class counsel, Magistrate Judge Dennis Beck of the Eastern District of California noted Cohen Milstein’s experience in complex litigation, and pointed to the firm’s pre-trial “investigation into the alleged misconduct and identification of the legal theory of the case.”
In addition, the court appointed Berman DeValerio and Keller Rohrback to an interim executive committee, with Berman DeValerio also serving as interim liaison counsel.