CWT, Illinois market settle lawsuit

ARLINGTON, VA – Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) successfully reached an out-of-court settlement with the defendants in the civil action, titled Kessler v. Greenville Livestock, Inc., which was filed in the Circuit Court for St. Clair County, Illinois on Sept. 1, 2010.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), which manages CWT, had joined with Illinois dairy farmer Kevin Kessler, and Kessler Dairy Inc., as a plaintiff in the action. The dispute involved transactions related to CWT’s herd retirement program.

The Illinois livestock auction market allegedly purchased cattle from Kessler, but instead of selling them for slaughter, resold some them as herd replacements to a different farmer, in violation of the terms of CWT’s herd retirement program.

Kessler’s bid to retire his 340 cows was accepted in the latest CWT herd retirement. He sold his herd to the auction market on the express condition the herd would then be sold to a slaughter facility. Kessler and NMPF contended Greenville Livestock Auction instead sold some of the cows as replacements to another dairy farm, breaching its contract, unjustly enriching itself by buying cows at a beef price and then reselling them at a higher replacement price, and committing fraud in violation of the common law and the Illinois consumer protection statute.

By agreement with defendants, the terms of the settlement will not be disclosed. However, all parties are satisfied that the settlement resolves the case fairly. Jerry Kozak, NMPF president and CEO, said: “We have always fully investigated every report involving allegations about the proper operation of Cooperatives Working Together, and we felt, in this situation, that we needed to take legal action. The settlement agreement we have made with the defendants preserves the integrity of the CWT program and protects dairy farmers’ investment in CWT.”

Kessler and National Milk Producers Federation were represented in this action by its outside general counsel, Kevin J. Brosch of DTB Associates, LLP, Washington D.C.,; James A. McGurk of Chicago, Illinois; and Russell K. Scott of Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C., Belleville, Illinois.