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DFA agrees to $159 million settlement in ‘Southeast Milk’ lawsuit


DFA agrees to $159 million settlement in ‘Southeast Milk’ lawsuit
The book on the “Southeast Milk” class action antitrust lawsuit may finally be reaching its final chapter.
On Jan. 21, the day before the trial was begin, a $158.6 million settlement agreement was reached between lawyers representing dairy farmer plaintiffs and remaining defendants in the suit – Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. (DFA); Mid-Am Capital, LLC; National Dairy Holdings, LP; and Gary Hanman, the former DFA CEO. 
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee approved the settlement on Jan. 22. According to the agreement, defendants will pay $140 million in a one-time cash settlement. Of that total, DFA will pay $70 million; $50 million will be paid by National Dairy Holdings, which DFA sold to Grupo LaLa in 2009; and $20 million will be paid by Mid-Am Capital, DFA’s finance subsidiary. It was unclear whether Hanman will be required to make personal payments.
DFA admitted no wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement.
An additional $9.3 million/year for two years will be placed in a fund to guarantee stronger Class I (fluid milk) utilization in Appalachian (#5) and Southeast (#7) federal orders.
A “fairness hearing” on the settlement is scheduled for April 3, at which time dairy farmers can speak on the agreement.
For more details, visit www.dairybusiness.com.