Law firm BakerHostetler has announced the third and final settlement agreement with the remaining defendants in the Southeast Milk Antitrust Litigation. Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and the remaining defendants in the lawsuit that claims violation of federal antitrust laws have reached a settlement agreement with the certified class of Southeastern dairy farmers across 14 states totaling $158,600,000.

The settlement was reached in advance of the Jan. 22, 2013 trial date and brings the total award for the certified class to more than $300 million.

Previous settlements were reached in July 2011 with defendants Dean Foods for $140 million as well as Southern Marketing Agency and James Baird for $5 million plus changes in milk marketing conduct.

Click here to read a New York Times article outlining the history of the lawsuit.

DFA has made no admission of wrongdoing and has said that the settlement payment will not affect the cooperative’s day-today operations, its ability to market members’ milk or pay them a competitive price for that milk. Member milk checks and the member equity program will not be impacted.


In addition to the monetary award, DFA agreed to change its business conduct in the Southeast, including:

  • Taking steps to increase raw milk prices
  • Removing cancellation penalties on certain full-supply agreements with bottling plants and not entering into new full supply agreements during the settlement’'s term
  • Modifying membership agreements to improve farmer ability to change cooperatives
  • Enhancing price-related information on milk checks
  • Boosting transparency through auditing and disclosure commitments
  • Facilitating delegate votes on additional meaningful changes to conduct

DFA said in a statement that many of these components are consistent with new policies and procedures DFA management voluntarily developed and implemented previously to emphasize a culture of openness and transparency within the cooperative.

The BakerHostetler team working on behalf of the certified class of Southeastern dairy farmers was led by Robert G. Abrams and includes Robert Brookhiser Jr., Gregory Commins, Joanne Lichtman, Terry Sullivan, William DeVinney, Dan Foix, Carey Busen, Bridget Merritt, and Nicole Skolout. PD

—From BakerHostetler and DFA news releases