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In re Dairy Farmers of Am., Inc. Cheese Antitrust Litig.

United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

June 29, 2015, Decided; June 29, 2015, Filed

Master File No. 9 CV 3690; MDL No. 2031

Opinion

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss Indirect Purchaser Plaintiffs' Consolidated Class Action Complaint [497]. For the reasons state below, the Court grants Defendants' motion. In addition, putative Intervenors' motion to intervene [723] is denied.

I. [*5]  Background

This multi-district litigation—composed of separate consolidated actions by both Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs and Indirect Purchaser Plaintiffs—has been pending for approximately six years now. Detailed descriptions of the underlying facts of the case can be found in Judge Hibbler's opinion on Defendants' motion to dismiss the Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs' complaint, In re Dairy Farmers of Am., Inc. Cheese Antitrust Litig., 767 F. Supp. 2d 880, 885-90 (N.D. Ill. 2011) (hereinafter "DFA I"), and in this Court's opinion on Defendants' motion to dismiss Indirect Purchaser Plaintiffs' federal claims, In re Dairy Farmers of Am., Inc. Cheese Antitrust Litig., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119962, 2013 WL 4506000, at *1-4 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 23, 2013) (hereinafter "DFA II").

This opinion is closely related to the Court's DFA II opinion, as it concerns Defendants' motion to dismiss the Indirect Plaintiffs' state-law claims as raised in their Consolidated Class Action Complaint [483]. The Court adopts the detailed factual history of the case as set forth in DFA I and DFA II, and highlights only those facts necessary to address the present motion.

A. Factual Background

Indirect Plaintiffs allege that Defendants and Schreiber Foods, Inc. conspired to fix, stabilize, raise, and maintain the prices of Class I & III milk and products containing Class I & III milk. The basic allegation is that Defendants bought all of the Class III milk futures [*6]  on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange ("CME") covering a certain period of time. Defendants then monopolized the CME's Cheese Spot market (i.e., the only commodity exchange market for cheddar cheese in the United States), which allegedly caused an increase in the USDA's milk rate, which in turn increased the price of Defendants' milk futures and the nationwide price for finished dairy products sold to consumers. This chain of events allowed Defendants to profit from both (a) the artificially high price of milk futures and (b) the artificially high price of finished dairy products. Indirect Plaintiffs contend that Defendants' scheme injured them by forcing them to overpay for finished dairy products, namely various types of cheese. The named Plaintiffs are citizens of eight states (Arkansas, California, Florida, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, and New York) who allegedly purchased Defendants' finished dairy products during the relevant time periods in their respective states.

B. Procedural Background

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2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84152 *; 2015-2 Trade Cas. (CCH) P79,224; 2015 WL 3988488

IN RE: DAIRY FARMERS OF AMERICA, INC. CHEESE ANTITRUST LITIGATION. THIS DOCUMENT RELATES TO: Indirect Purchaser Actions

Prior History: In re Dairy Farmers of Am., Inc., Cheese Antitrust Litig., 80 F. Supp. 3d 838, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20408 (N.D. Ill., Feb. 20, 2015)

CORE TERMS

antitrust, Indirect, tolling, enrichment, unjust, Brick, cheese, remoteness, consumer-protection, price-fixing, unfair, monopolization, milk, deceptive, finished, dairy, consumer, certification, causation, Consolidated, exemption, Spot, antitrust-standing, class-action, state-law, invoking, unconscionable, cross-jurisdictional, manufacturers, duplicative

Civil Procedure, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Pleadings, Complaints, Requirements for Complaint, Governments, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Antitrust & Trade Law, Regulated Practices, Private Actions, State Regulation, Standing, Standing, Clayton Act, Constitutional Law, The Judiciary, Case or Controversy, Requirements, Sherman Act, Consumer Protection, Consumer Protection, Deceptive & Unfair Trade Practices, Trade Practices & Unfair Competition, State Regulation, Claims, Torts, Negligence, Elements, Causation, Fraud & Misrepresentation, Actual Fraud, Elements, Scope, Federal Trade Commission Act, Business & Corporate Compliance, Contracts Law, Types of Contracts, Quasi Contracts, Contracts Law, Remedies, Equitable Relief, Quantum Meruit, Legislation, Statute of Limitations, Time Limitations, Defenses, Affirmative Defenses, Statute of Limitations, Preliminary Considerations, Federal & State Interrelationships, Choice of Law, Tolling of Statute of Limitations, Amendment of Pleadings, Relation Back, Tolling of Statute of Limitations, Class Actions, Class Actions, Prerequisites for Class Action, Numerosity, Special Proceedings, Certification of Classes, Justiciability