Pork producers in 17 states can join lawsuits filed against vitamin makers

ORLANDO, Fla. – Pork producers in 17 states can potentially join lawsuits filed against vitamin makers, a veterinarian and a lawyer involved in the litigation told delegates during the National Pork Industry Forum held March 8-10 in Orlando, Fla.

Allegations of the lawsuit cover Jan. 1, 1990 to Dec. 31, 1999, although some single ingredient vitamin supplements, straight bulk vitamin products and premix may be covered during a shorter time period.

“Swine producers are considered indirect purchasers of vitamin products by means of their purchases of premix, basemix and complete rations from an entity other than the manufacturer, such as a feed mill or other source,” explained Steve Henry, a swine veterinarian from Kansas. “If we overpaid for vitamins by $1 per pig, that total is very large over the 10 years covered by the allegations.”

Tom Patterson, an attorney in Sioux City, Iowa, said “Since 1997, many lawsuits have been filed against certain manufacturers of vitamins, alleging a long-running international conspiracy to fix, raise and maintain inflated prices of certain bulk vitamins and vitamin products. These lawsuits have been filed on behalf of both direct and indirect purchasers of vitamin products.”

Plaintiffs who had filed indirect purchaser vitamin lawsuits in various state courts entered into an agreement of partial settlement and release on Oct. 10, 2000. This agreement is referred to as the Master Settlement Agreement, with Defendants Aventis Animal Nutrition, BASF Corporation, Hoffmann-LaRoche, Inc., Roche Vitamins, Takeda Chemical Industries, Caiichi Pharmaceutical Co. and Eisai Co.

“This Master Settlement Agreement, if approved by the state courts involved, will establish a claims process for indirect purchasers of vitamins, such as pork producers, to file a claim for damages they may have incurred as a result of the vitamin manufacturers’ illegal price fixing,” Patterson explained.

“The Master Settlement Agreement has not been approved by the courts at this point, but it is anticipated that approval of the settlement will occur sometime soon. Once the settlement has been approved, as indirect purchasers of vitamins, pork producers would have either 90 days to opt out of the settlement, or 120 days to remain in the settlement and file a claim.”

The Master Settlement Agreement applies only to Arizona, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Further information on the Porcine Vitamin Antitrust Litigation can be found at www.pigvitamins.com.

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