US chocolate price fixing lawsuit appeal dismissed
The case was initially dismissed against the chocolate firms that command 75% of the US market in February 2014, but claimants, which include retailers such as Kroger, Safeway and Walgreen, appealed the decision.
A panel of three judges ruled there was there were no grounds to suggest a conspiracy and dismissed the case last week.
“Considering the evidence as a whole, the Plaintiffs have failed to create a reasonable inference that the Chocolate Manufacturers more likely than not conspired to fix prices in,” said circuit judge Fisher.
The claimants had accused the chocolate companies of conspiring to raise chocolate confectionery prices in the US three times between 2002 and 2007.
The appeal courts’ ruling last week came days after the Public Prosecution Service of Canada stayed a criminal case against Mars on chocolate price fixing charges in Canada.
Canada continues to pursue Nestlé and ex-Nestlé Canada president Robert Leonidas. Authorities there fined Hershey $4m after it pleaded guilty and cooperated with investigations. Mondelēz International-owned Cadbury escaped penalty as the initial whistleblower.
91 cases dismissed
The Re: Chocolate Confectionary Antitrust Litigation case consolidates 91 separate civil actions against the chocolate companies in the US. Hershey, Mars and Nestlé were liable to pay up to $727m in damages if the court found in the retailers’ favor.
Mondelez International-owned Cadbury was a defendant in the initial allegation brought in 2007, but settled for $1.3m in 2012.