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US: Dairy group tempts SCOTUS with class action dispute

 |  November 13, 2014

The nation’s largest dairy group is hoping the US Supreme Court will take on its long-standing antitrust dispute and further clarify the standards and requirements for plaintiffs such antitrust cases.

According to reports, Dean Foods believes its case is idea for SCOTUS to build upon earlier precedents set by Bell Atlantic v. Twombly and Comcast v. Behrend, both of which increased the burden placed on antitrust plaintiffs to overcome case dismissals and be granted class certification.

The dispute, Dean Foods Company v. Food Lion, emerged when a class action lawsuit was filed against the dairy conglomerate, accusing it of colluding with the Dairy Farmers of America to reduce competition in the bottled milk market across the southeast US.

Dean Foods is challenging an earlier decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which ruled earlier this year that a Tennessee judge was wrong to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims against Dean and the DFA. The case was tossed after granting a request for summary judgment to the defendants; the Sixth Circuit reversed that decision on grounds that a summary judgment should not have been granted.

Dean argues that the Sixth Circuit defied earlier precedent by “showing disdain for summary judgment standards,” reports say. The company also challenges its ruling that Dean says presumed causation – specifically, regarding whether plaintiffs could tie higher milk costs as a direct result of the alleged collusion.

A lawyer for Dean says this dispute would be well-suited for SCOTUS. “As in Twombly and Comcast, this Court should grant review to demonstrate the correct application of this critical pretrial standard” for summary judgment.

Reports say the Supreme Court will weigh Dean’s petition on November 14.

Full content: Litigation Daily

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