Another Settlement Reached in Tuna Antitrust Lawsuit

On Wednesday, various grocers and others in the direct purchaser plaintiffs class asked the Southern District of California to give preliminary approval to a settlement agreement it reached with Tri-Union Seafoods LLC, which does business as Chicken of the Sea, and Thai Union Group PLC in an antitrust lawsuit against these defendants and other tuna producers. 

In the $13 million settlement agreement, the defendants agreed to pay 3.2% of the sales of products they sold to the group of plaintiffs. A declaration attached to the plaintiffs’ motion explained that the settlement class members’ purchases in this class account for “approximately 20% (of) the commerce at issue in this case.” 

The agreement explained that the settlement class counsel determined “that it is in the best interests of Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs and the Settlement Class to enter into this Settlement Agreement with (the defendants) to avoid the uncertainties and risks of further legislation.” The defendants claimed that although they do have a “valid defense” to the claims against them, they decided to settle to avoid expense and uncertainty that accompanied the legislation. 

The settlement agreement explained that significant discovery has already occurred in the case, leading to the parties having sufficient information available to negotiate this settlement. The direct purchaser plaintiffs are reportedly the last class to settle with Tri-Union Seafoods and Thai Union Group; this settlement is similar to the other settlements that have been approved by the court. 

Additionally, the movants asked the court to certify the class which would include any people or businesses that purchased tuna from the defendants between June 2011 and July 2015, except government entities and parties associated with the defendants. The settlement includes a process for giving notice to settlement class members. Under the settlement, the class representatives will also be awarded $5,000 each for their efforts in the case, through almost six years of litigation and discovery. 

The class of plaintiffs asked the court to approve Hausfeld LLP as class counsel for the direct purchaser plaintiffs. The defendants are represented by Allen & Overy LLP and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP