In a hearing last week in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, District Judge Christopher Conner gave his final approval of Cadbury’s settlement offer made in April this year.
The court had previously granted preliminary approval of the offer in August, deeming it fair, reasonable and adequate pending the final decision.
Cases were brought in several US federal courts in late 2007 and early 2008 alleging that Cadbury, along with Nestle, Hershey and Mars, had conspired to unlawfully fix chocolate prices between 2002 and 2007 in violation of anti-trust laws.
The claims were brought by US consumers who had purchased products from the four multinationals during this period who claimed that they paid more for their chocolate as a result.
In April 2008 all cases were transferred to the District Court in Pennsylvania.
Following Cadbury’s settlement, Nestle, Hershey and Mars will continue to fight the case.
In its April settlement offer (available here), Cadbury said: “Cadbury defendants deny that they bear any liability whatsoever to the Settlement Class as alleged by plantiffs but have agreed to enter into this agreement to avoid further expense, inconvenience, and the distraction of burdensome and protracted litigation.”
Cadbury also alluded to the fact that the lion share of its US chocolate sales were made through Hershey, which manufactures and prices its products.
Cadbury businesses implicated in the case were Cadbury PLC, Cadbury Holdings and Cadbury Adams Canada, referred to collectively as Cadbury.
The company, now owned by Kraft, will pay $1.3m into a settlement fund for the benefit of direct purchases of its chocolate products
It has also agreed to cooperate in the on-going case against Nestle, Hershey and Mars
ConfectioneryNews.com asked Kraft to provide more details on why it had chosen to settle when its competitors had not, but it failed to respond before publication.
More information on the case can be found on a website dedicated to the lawsuit here.