NEW YORK (Milberg LLP) — Milberg LLP has filed a class action lawsuit alleging that consumers were overcharged on their purchases of potatoes dating back to 2004 through the present. The complaint alleges that the defendants, an alleged cartel consisting of among the largest potato growers, cooperatives, processors and licensors, violated federal and state antitrust laws by having entered into an illegal scheme to restrict output and raise prices for potatoes. The suit covers consumers in Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. In December 2010, the Court hearing the case appointed Milberg LLP as interim co-lead counsel.
According to the complaint, defendants, who have been publicly called the "potato cartel" and control 80% of the United States potato supply, conspired to increase prices for fresh and process potatoes in the United States starting in 2004 by reducing the potatoes grown or available for consumer markets. Defendants' actions effectively reduced competition in the markets for fresh and process potatoes throughout North America.
The defendants in the action include: United Potato Growers of America, Inc., United Potato Growers of Idaho, Inc., United II Potato Growers of Idaho, Inc., United Potato Growers of Canada, Wada Farms, Inc., Wada Farms Potatoes, Inc., Wada-Van Orden Potatoes, Inc., Albert Wada, Blaine Larsen Farms, Inc., Blaine Larsen, Potandon Produce LLC, Cornelison Farms, Inc., Keith Cornelison, Michael Cranney d/b/a Cranney Farms, Snake River Plains Potatoes, Inc., Driscoll Potatoes, Inc., Lance Funk d/b/a Lance Funk Farms, Rigby Produce, Inc., Pleasant Valley Potato, Inc., Raybould Brothers Farms LLC, RD Offutt Co., Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc., Dole Food Company, Inc., and Idahoan Foods LLC.
The action is part of a multi-district litigation captioned In Re Fresh and Process Potatoes Antitrust Litigation pending in the United States District Court for the District of Idaho and is numbered 4:10-md-02186-BLW.