Good news for anyone with a sweet tooth: you might be entitled to part of a class action settlement against Cadbury, the British candy maker, famous for their sugary Easter eggs.
Faced with a class action suit over accusations of price-fixing in the chocolate industry, Cadbury opted to settle out of court with the class, which includes both retailers and end-use consumers, just like you. For direct purchasers from Cadbury for wholesale a fund of $1.3 million has been set up, for indirect customers — those who purchased from wholesalers for resale purposes, and end-use consumers — the company set aside $250,000.
Cadbury denies any wrongdoing, but has agreed to settle out of court to avoid any litigation in the future. The suit still has three more major defendants, all of whom refused to settle out of court: Mars, Hershey and and Nestle.
Candy Price Fixing Conspiracy Runs Deep
Mars, Hershey, Nestle, and Cadbury have been under investigation in the US, Canada, and Germany for allegations of price fixing since early 2008. The specific lawsuit that led to this settlement accuses Cadbury and its industry competitors of fixing prices from December 9, 2002 until December 20, 2007. Price fixing of this sort violates the Sherman Antitrust Act, which was passed in 1890.
A story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune offers some interesting insight into the allegations. According to the story, chocolate candy prices climbed 17% between 2008 and 2010. At the same time, chocolate candy sales dropped 7%. But, during this time cocoa and sugar have gotten substantially more expensive.
The Star-Tribune reports that the price of cocoa and sugar barely changed from 2003 to 2007, when the price fixing was taking place. During that time period, candy makers were raising their prices substantially, regardless.
So if you purchased chocolate candy — defined in legalese as “chocolate bars and other chocolate confectionary products packaged to be sold at retail” — manufactured by Cadbury between the dates specified in the lawsuit, you are part of the plaintiff class. Because, according to the suit, “[p]laintiffs…and other indirect end user purchasers paid more for chocolate candy than they would have absent the conspiracy,” you are entitled to a settlement.
You Might Be Due for Some Dough, But Not Much
Think hard. Did you ever purchase a Cadbury Creme Egg during any Easter candy season between 2003 and 2007?
If so, you don’t have to do anything, just yet, to be included in the lawsuit. If not, you can request to be removed from the lawsuit in writing by October 18th of this year — as a formality. But why would you?
MyBankTracker.com contacted the plaintiff class legal counsel, Steven Benz of Kellog, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans and Figel, in Washington DC, inquiring as to what sort of proof one would need to provide for membership in the plaintiff class, and we were referred back to the Indirect Settlement site, which provides no answers to that specific inquiry, but offers basic information for curious parties.
It isn’t likely that you’ll make much money off of this class action suit, but maybe you’ll get enough to buy yourself a candy bar. Maybe.