If you're a milk drinker and resident of one of 15 different states or Washington D.C.—or you were at any point from 2003 on—start warming up your typing fingers, because there's a legal settlement you need to claim. Apparently Big Dairy was busted for artificially increasing milk prices and, as a result, they've been ordered to pay damages of $52 million to settle an antitrust class-action lawsuit.
Residents of Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia or Wisconsin are eligible to claim part of the settlement, which could be between $30 and $70 per person. The catch? You have to swear that you purchased milk or milk products (including cottage cheese, cream, cream cheese, half and half, sour cream or yogurt) at any point in the past 14 years. (And as near as I can tell, the only proof that is required is a willingness to check a box that says "I purchased milk or fresh milk products.")
The push for legal action against the dairy industry was led by Compassion Over Killing, a nonprofit animal advocacy organization. It filed the lawsuit in September 2011, after alleging that Cooperatives Working Together, a dairy industry trade group, and others in the milk and dairy business were colluding to fix prices on milk products by killing up to 500,000 cows. As a result, the milk supply was reduced and the prices could continue on their regularly scheduled upward trajectory.
"Compassion Over Killing is proud to have spearheaded the research that led to this class action suit brought by Hagens Berman on behalf of millions of consumers harmed by the dairy industry," Cheryl Leahy, the General Counsel for the organization, said in a statement. "Not only was the price of milk artificially inflated, but this scheme ultimately also cost 500,000 young cows their lives."
The case was settled last September—five years after the lawsuit was filed—and consumers have until January 31 to submit a claim. Affected customers can submit their claims by mail (I'll send you the address, mom) or through the website BoughtMilk.com. Aww, the Fresh Milk Products Price-Fixing Class Action Lawsuit made a joke!