On February 27, 2023, the Honorable Rodney Smith of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida granted final approval of a $33 million settlement (“Settlement”) to resolve anti-trust claims brought against Norwegian salmon farming companies Mowi ASA, Grieg Seafood ASA, Ocean Quality AS, Salmar ASA, Cermaq, and Lerøy Seafood USA Inc. (collectively, “Defendants”). The settlement received Preliminary Approval on October 6, 2022.
This action was originally brought by Wood Mountain Fish LLC; Bagels & Baguettes; Portland Hunt-Alpine Club, LLC; Prime Steakhouse; Mamme Inc; Rocca Kurt’s Brothers Inc; and Stephen T. Deangelis, Inc. (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) in April 2022. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants illegally conspired to hike the price of salmon by exchanging sensitive competitive pricing information and manipulating the Nasdaq Salmon Index, artificially increasing prices for indirect purchasers.
As part of the final approval order, the Court certified a settlement class comprising “All persons and entities who indirectly purchased, for resale, Defendant’s farm-raised salmon or products derived therefrom.” The products must have been purchased between April 10, 2013 and February 27, 2023 in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, or Wisconsin.
The settlement class comprises approximately 400,000 businesses, including restaurants and caterers. The Court appointed Hunt-Alpine Club, LLC; Prime Steakhouse; Mamme Inc.; Rocca Kurt’s Brothers Inc.; Stephen T. Deanglis, Inc.; Amy Mehaffey, Nautical Okoboji LLC; People’s Food Cooperative, Inc.; Classic City Catering, Inc.; and Bama Seafood, Inc. as class representatives for settlement purposes.
In granting final approval, the Court determined that the Settlement “is fair, reasonable, and adequate, and in the best interests of the parties,” especially considering it allows both parties to avoid the “significant costs, risks, and delay of further litigation.” Of the $33 million settlement fund approved for the class, 30%, or $9.9 million, will be awarded as attorneys’ fees. The court deemed such an award appropriate in light of the complexity of the case and the challenge of conducting and coordinating discovery from a single database of documents, most of which were in Norwegian and needed to be translated.
The Indirect Purchaser Plaintiffs are represented by Miller Shah LLP, Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP, and Zwerling Schachter & Zwerling LLP.
The case is Wood Mountain Fish LLC v. Mowi ASA (f/k/a Marine Harvest ASA) et al., case number 1:19-cv-22128, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
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