LONDON, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Sept. 16, 2013) - Class action lawsuits brought across Canada against Cadbury, Hershey, Nestlé and Mars entities, and distributor ITWAL Limited alleging price-fixing and price maintenance in the market for chocolate products in Canada have been settled and resolved in full. The defendants deny the allegations and have settled to avoid the expense, inconvenience and distraction of further protracted litigation. The settlements reflect a compromise of disputed claims.
The settlements were approved by the courts in Ontario, British Columbia and Québec as being fair, reasonable and in the best interests of class members. Together, the defendants, Cadbury Adams Canada Inc., Hershey Canada Inc., Nestlé Canada Inc. and Mars Canada Inc. paid $23.2 million for the benefit of all persons who bought Cadbury, Hershey, Nestlé and/or Mars chocolate products in Canada between February 1, 2001 and December 31, 2008.
The courts in Ontario, British Columbia and Québec have also approved a method for distributing the settlement amounts (less approved fees and expenses) to consumers and commercial purchasers with chocolate product purchases between October 1, 2005 and September 30, 2007. Consumers who purchased at least $1,000 in chocolate products between October 1, 2005 and September 30, 2007 will be eligible to make a claim for direct monetary compensation. It is not necessary to have purchase records in order to make a claim, although consumer claims that are not supported by purchase records are capped at $50.
Recognizing that not all consumers will have made the threshold level of purchases required to make a claim for direct monetary compensation, consumers not eligible for direct monetary compensation will be indirectly compensated through a distribution of 10% of the available settlement funds to the following national non-profit organizations: Consumers Association of Canada; Public Interest Advocacy Centre; Phelps Centre for the Study of Government and Business (University of British Columbia); Centre for Interuniversity Research and Analysis of Organizations; and Rotman Institute for International Business (University of Toronto). The monies received by these organizations will be used to fund food and nutritional programs across Canada. The remaining 90% will be allocated for direct payment to consumers and commercial purchasers whose claims are approved. Payments to eligible claimants will be made based on the estimated percentage of the purchase price affected by the alleged overcharge, and not based on the full price of the product.
The deadline for filing a claim to receive direct compensation is December 15, 2013. Persons who believe they might qualify for direct compensation can obtain more information about the settlement benefits and how to make a claim online at www.chocolateclassaction.com or by calling 1-866-432-5534. Claims that are not made within the deadline will not be eligible for compensation.
Persons in British Columbia are represented by Sharon Matthews of Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman (Vancouver) and Luciana Brasil of Branch MacMaster LLP (Vancouver). Individuals and partnerships and corporations with less than 50 employees in Québec are represented by Simon Hebert of Siskinds Desmeules s.e.n.c.r.l. (Québec City). Persons in provinces other than British Columbia and Québec as well as partnerships and corporations in Québec with 50 or more employees are represented by Charles Wright of Siskinds LLP (London) and Heather Rumble Peterson of Sutts, Strosberg LLP (Windsor).