November 29, 1999

1 Min Read
Vitamin Price-Fixing Settlement Gets Preliminary Approval

WASHINGTON--Federal court judge Thomas Hogan granted preliminary approval to the settlement of the $1.2 billion price-fixing lawsuit brought against seven large vitamin manufacturers. The judge also denied several motions that attempted to intervene on behalf of Archer Daniels Midland and other plaintiffs and exclude them from the settlement.

The companies cited their opposition to a "most favored nations" (MFN) clause, claiming it would impair their interests. The MFN stipulates that if a plaintiff opts out of a class settlement, and then pursues independent litigation and receives a higher settlement, then the class settlement would be altered to match that amount. The MFN will remain active for two years from the Nov. 3 filing of the motion.

Class counsel maintains that the MFN is a key part of the settlement negotiations. Hogan said that though many aspects of the clause are unique, "many aspects of this case are unprecedented, including the over $1 billion recovery." In addition, he said that if the motions to intervene were granted, it "could unduly prejudice the settling parties by unnecessarily delaying their settlement."

The preliminary approval was granted after an initial evaluation that showed that there were no obvious deficiencies or reasons to doubt the fairness of the settlement. The settlement will pay approximately $1.5 billion to the class and $122 million in attorneys' fees.

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