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In a class action lawsuit, one or more people or businesses called class representatives sue on behalf of others who have similar claims, all of whom together are a “class.” Individual Litigation Class Members do not have to file a lawsuit to participate in the class action or be bound by the judgment in the class action. One court resolves the issues for everyone in the class, except for those who exclude themselves from the class (“opt out”).
The District Court decided that this lawsuit can be a class action and move towards a trial because it meets the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, which governs class actions in federal courts. Specifically, the District Court found that:
Commercial Food Preparer Plaintiffs allege that from June 2011 through December 2016, Defendants participated in an unlawful conspiracy to raise, fix, maintain, or stabilize the price of Packaged Tuna products at an artificially high level in violation of antitrust and unfair competition laws.
On July 30, 2019, the District Court certified the Litigation Class and selected Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP to act as Class Counsel; however, on April 6, 2021, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the District Court’s order and remanded the case to the District Court for further consideration. On August 3, 2021, following a vote of non-recused active judges, the Court of Appeals vacated the April 6, 2021 decision, ordering that an eleven-judge panel rehear the case. On April 8, 2022, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the District Court’s decision to certify the Class. On August 8, 2022, StarKist filed a petition with the United States Supreme Court to appeal the Ninth Circuit’s decision upholding the District Court’s decision to certify the Class. On November 14, 2022, the United States Supreme Court denied StarKist’s petition, allowing the District Court’s order certifying the Class to stand. The Court has indicated that it intends to set dates for the trial in the near future.
On November 10, 2021, the Court issued an order granting in part and denying in part plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment.
The Commercial Food Preparer Plaintiffs agreed to settle with COSI. On January 26, 2022, the Court preliminarily approved the COSI Settlement, and notice was disseminated. On August 22, 2022, the Court granted final approval of the COSI Settlement and certified the Settlement Class. Payments for the COSI Settlement will be distributed after the trial or settlement with Non-Settling Defendants.
Defendants deny the Commercial Food Preparer Plaintiffs’ allegations and have asserted defenses to their claims. As noted above, StarKist filed a petition in the United States Supreme Court to appeal the Class Order on August 8, 2022; however, that petition was denied. The Court has indicated that it intends to set dates for the trial in the near future.
COSI settled with the Commercial Food Preparer Plaintiffs to avoid litigation risks, costs, and inconvenience. Payments for the COSI Settlement will be distributed after the trial or settlement with the Non-Settling Defendants.
The Commercial Food Preparer Plaintiffs are asking that the Non-Settling Defendants provide monetary damages to Litigation Class Members. Plaintiffs will also seek attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in connection with the prosecution of this action.
As part of the COSI Settlement, COSI agreed to pay $6.50 million to a Settlement Fund. A portion of the Settlement Fund will be used by the claims administrator to administer notice and claims in the COSI Settlement. Any monies remaining, after the costs of notice and claims administration as well as court-approved attorney fees, costs, and class representative incentive awards in the COSI Settlement are paid, will be distributed pro rata to valid qualifying CFP Settlement Class Members who filed a claim. Settlement Class Counsel requested, and the Court awarded, a distribution to cover litigation costs and class representative incentive awards. The approved motion for costs and incentive awards and the Court’s Order can be viewed on the Settlement website.
If you have not received a postcard indicating your qualifying purchase values found in transactional data of DOT Foods and/or US Foods, then you must file a claim in order to receive money from the COSI Settlement. No money or benefits are available at this time from Non-Settling Defendants because the Court has not yet decided on the impact of the Non-Settling Defendants’ alleged wrongdoing or whether Class Members are entitled to money or other benefits. There is no guarantee that additional money or benefits will be obtained. If they are, you will be notified about how to seek money or other benefits from the Non-Settling Defendants’ lawsuit.
Money is available to Settlement Class Members who file a claim in the COSI Settlement. COSI Settlement Class Members who timely submitted a valid, approved claim are entitled to be treated equally and receive Settlement compensation on a pro rata basis such that the Settlement Fund is exhausted. The claims administrator will not distribute any money until all remaining claims against Non-Settling Defendants are resolved. Please be patient. If your address has changed, please inform the claims administrator to ensure any communications are sent to your current address.
If you exclude yourself from the Litigation Class—which means to remove yourself from the Litigation Class, and is sometimes called “opting out” of the Class—you will not get any future money or benefits recovered in this lawsuit or from Non-Settling Defendants, even if the CFPs obtain them as a result of the trial. However, you may then be able to sue or continue to sue Non-Settling Defendants on your own regarding the claims in this matter. If you exclude yourself, you will not be legally bound by the Court’s judgments in this class action as it pertains to the Non-Settling Defendants.
If you start your own lawsuit against Non-Settling Defendants regarding the same claims in this matter after you exclude yourself, you will have to hire and pay your own lawyer for that lawsuit, and you will have to prove your claims.
The exclusion period for the COSI Settlement has passed. If you did not opt out of the COSI Settlement, you will continue to be bound by the Court’s approval of the Settlement and its terms even if you opt out of the Litigation Class. If you did exclude yourself from the COSI Settlement, you still must exclude yourself again if you do not want to be included in the Litigation Class.
To exclude yourself or opt out from the Litigation Class, you must complete and mail to the claims administrator a written request for exclusion.
The request to opt out of the Litigation Class must include:
You must mail your exclusion request, postmarked by June 21, 2023 to:
If you do not include the required information or timely submit your request for exclusion, you will remain a Litigation Class Member and you will be bound by the orders of the Court.
Yes. The Court has appointed the law firm of Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP as Class Counsel on behalf of the Commercial Food Preparer Plaintiffs and Class Members. Contact information for Class Counsel is below:
If you wish to remain a Litigation Class Member, you do not need to hire your own lawyer because Class Counsel is working on your behalf. If you wish to pursue your own case separate from this one, or if you exclude yourself from the Litigation Class, Class Counsel will no longer represent you. You may need to hire your own lawyer if you wish to pursue your own lawsuit against any of the Defendants.
This website summarizes the case. You can also contact the claims administrator:
PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE COURT REGARDING THIS WEBSITE.