Ever snag a chocolate bar as you’re checking out at the grocery store? Ever buy Halloween candy? Or, if you’re like me, maybe you keep a stash somewhere in the house. Just in case. For when you need that fix.
Well, you just might be part of a class action lawsuit settlement that you never knew you were part of. And funny how that word “fix” figures into this one. See, in the chocolate class action, the ‘fix’ is about alleged price fixing (which somehow sounds better with a French whirl: chocolat à prix fixe, doesn’t it?)
The Chocolate Class Action Lawsuit alleged that several chocolate makers—and we’re not talking high-end chocolatiers here—we’re talking the mass-marketed brands that every red-blooded American has bought at one time or other–conspired to “fix, raise, maintain or stablize prices of Chocolate Candy resulting in overcharges to those who purchased Chocolate Candy by a Defendant”. Yes, your basic anti-trust lawsuit.
If you’re tracking here, “a Defendant” implies there’s more than one defendant here. And there are. The defendants in the chocolate class action are: Cadbury Holdings Ltd., Cadbury pc, and Cadbury Adams Canada, Inc.; Hershey Canada, Inc., The Hershey Company, Mars, Inc., Mars Snackfood U.S., LLC and Nestle U.S.A., Inc.
Think of how much chocolate’s included there! Seriously…why there’s…
Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars, Hershey’s Cookies ‘n Creme, Hershey’s Dark Chocolate, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate with Almonds, Hershey’s Miniatures, Mr. Goodbar, Symphony chocolate bars, Nestle Crunch, Butterfinger, Kit-Kat, M&M’s, Milky Way, Twix, Snickers, 3 Musketeers, Mars Bar, to name some favorites. Almost forgot—Cadbury Creme Eggs, too!
Ok, so now that you know who’s on the receiving end of this one, here are the details—as so far, Cadbury Holdings Ltd., Cadbury plc, and Cadbury Adams Canada, Inc. (“Cadbury”) have reached settlements—and the other defendants are still in litigation.
There are actually two classes for this class action settlement. Because chocolate candy is sold at retailers and, therefore, the retailer—like Wal-Mart or Winn-Dixie—has had to purchase the chocolate wholesale directly from the manufacturer, there is a “Direct Purchasers” class. Direct purchase would mean anyone who bought the candy direct from the Defendant(s) and intended to resell it.
As you’ve probably guessed, the second class is for “Indirect Purchasers“; “Indirect Purchasers” meaning anyone who bought the chocolate in question from someone other than the Defendant(s) (e.g., a store) for the purpose of personal consumption–or to give as a gift.
You must have purchased the chocolate December 9, 2002 through December 20, 2007.
It is possible to be a member of both classes.
So far, only Cadbury has reached a settlement. The terms of the Cadbury settlement call for Cadbury to pay out $250,000 in cash to the Indirect Purchasers, and $1,312,500 in cash to the Direct Purchasers. The settlement also provides $250,000 to pay for notice of the settlements to all settlement classes. Cadbury also agreed to cooperate in the remaining litigation against the other Defendants.
The Fairness Hearing is set for December 12, 2011. That’s when the final ok (or not) would be granted for the Cadbury settlement to go ahead. Once that happens, the claims administrator for the class action settlement would post a claim form that you would need to fill out and submit.
Right now, your best bet is to keep an eye on things, and you can do so at the Chocolate Candy Class Action Settlement websites–yes, there are two of them: One for Direct Purchasers, www.ChocolateSettlementDirect.com; and one for Indirect Purchasers, www.ChocolateSettlementIndirect.com. The Indirect one is the one you want if you just bought chocolate at a store for yourself or as a gift. (Do not submit claims to LawyersandSettlements.com for this.)
Also, if you’d like to be excluded from either class for the Cadbury settlement, the deadline is October 21, 2011. The deadline to object to the Cadbury settlement is November 28, 2011. Additionally, the deadline to submit a Notice of Intention toAppear at the Fairness Hearing is also November 28, 2011.