The distribution of a $31 million settlement — reached in a deal with Keurig Inc. amid allegations it forced a monopoly in the single-serve coffee pod market — is under dispute.
An order granting a motion to intervene was granted to Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody last Tuesday in a New York federal court, Law360 reported.
In the motion, the attorneys general said they hadn’t been able to resolve a dispute with the Class counsel on how the settlement would be distributed across the states, and were concerned some states’ residents would get much less than others.
Late last year, Keurig agreed to pay $31 million to resolve claims it violated antitrust laws by fixing the price of its Keurig K-Cup products, and the settlement has been given preliminary approval.
It benefits those who purchased Keurig K-Cup Portion Packs from retailers other than Keurig between Sept. 7, 2010, and Aug. 14, 2020, in all states other than Mississippi and Rhode Island; between March 24, 2011, and Aug. 14, 2020, in Mississippi; or between July 15, 2013, and Aug. 14, 2020, in Rhode Island.
According to the plaintiffs in eight consolidated class action lawsuits, Keurig violated antitrust laws in order to monopolize the market for single-serve coffee pods. This monopoly allegedly allowed the company to artificially fix the price of Keurig K-Cup products — subjecting consumers to financial strain that wouldn’t exist in a healthy market.
However in the latest motion, Illinois and Florida representatives say that under the current settlement distribution plan, “purchasers in Illinois and Florida will be harmed by recovering less than other arguably similarly situated consumers,” Law 360 reported.
They argue that the settlement plan pays different amounts to people in different states due to the states’ differing consumer laws.
In some states, indirect purchasers of products or services impacted by antitrust violations can’t seek damages in federal court due to not having repealed the U.S. Supreme Court’s Illinois v. Illinois Brick ruling.
Consumers in the states where damages can be sought are getting up to a full refund, while residents of the other states will get only eight percent each of what they spent, Law360 reported.
The intervention bid is not being opposed by Keurig or the buyers who reached the deal.
However, the buyers said in a response that the plan was fair to consumers in Illinois and Florida. They pointed out that Illinois does not allow class actions to be brought under its antitrust law, and that Florida’s statute does not allow indirect buyers to recover treble damages for antitrust breaches. For more details on the settlement and how to file for compensation, click here.
Meanwhile, Keurig is facing a number of other class action lawsuits. In September, an environmentally conscious coffee drinker from New England launched a class action lawsuit over claims that Keurig coffee pods are not recyclable, though they are labeled otherwise.
What do you think of the motion to intervene in the settlement? Let us know in the comments!
Illinois is represented by Kathryn Hunt Muse, Blake L. Harrop and Richard S. Schultz of the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. Florida is represented by Patrick Crotty and Lizabeth A. Brady of the Florida Office of the Attorney General.
The indirect buyers are represented by Robert N. Kaplan, Gregory K. Arenson, Hae Sung Nam and Jason A. Uris of Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP, Mark C. Rifkin, Thomas H. Burt and Patrick Donovan of Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP, and Clifford H. Pearson, Daniel L. Warshaw and Matthew A. Pearson of Pearson Simon & Warshaw LLP.
The Keurig Monopoly Class Action Motion to Intervene is In Re: Keurig Green Mountain Single-Serve Coffee Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 1:14- md-02542, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
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