Nate Pease, et al. v. Jasper Wyman & Son, Inc., et al., Civil Action No. 00-015, Knox County, State of Maine
In November 2003, a Maine state court jury found three blueberry processing companies liable for participating in a four-year conspiracy to fix the base or ?field? price paid to approximately 80 growers of wild blueberries. Plaintiffs also alleged that defendants agreed not to solicit each other?s growers, a type of market allocation claim that is a per se violation of antitrust laws.
The plaintiffs comprised Maine-based growers of wild blueberries who directly or indirectly sold blueberries to any defendant from February 28, 1996 through February 28, 2000. The class was represented by Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll of Washington, D.C. and Berman & Simmons of Maine.
The jury found the economic and factual evidence of price fixing persuasive. The plaintiffs? expert witness, Dr. John Solow of the University of Iowa and a Principal Consultant with Nathan Associates, demonstrated that prices set by each defendant over a four-year period were identical. He also showed that prices paid to growers of wild blueberries were artificially low when compared with prices paid to growers of cultivated blueberries.
The jury ordered Cherryfield Foods, Inc., Jasper Wyman & Son, Inc., and Allen?s Blueberry Freezer, Inc. to pay $18.6 million in damages, the additional amount that growers would have been paid absent the conspiracy. After a mandatory trebling of this damage figure under Maine antitrust law, the total amount of the verdict for the plaintiffs was $56 million. The three defendants were jointly and severally liable for the damages.