Hausfeld is court-appointed Lead Counsel in this class action against the leading U.S. manufacturers of packaged tuna products to recover overpayments charged to customers by Chicken of the Sea, StarKist, and Bumble Bee resulting from their alleged price-fixing cartel.
The civil cases follow a criminal antitrust investigation being prosecuted by the United States Department of Justice, which has obtained guilty pleas from Bumble Bee and two of its executives, as well as StarKist and one of its top sales executives. Chicken of the Sea has confirmed that it is the leniency applicant and is cooperating with the DOJ’s investigation.
Discovery in the case is complete, and in 2018, Hausfeld filed a motion to certify the proposed class of direct purchasers. The Court held a three-day evidentiary hearing on that motion and other class certification motions in January of 2019, featuring testimony from the parties’ expert economists. The Court granted class certification to a class of direct purchasers and appointed Hausfeld as class counsel. Defendants filed an appeal of the class certification decision pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(f). In a published decision, the Ninth Circuit approved of -the methodology that Hausfeld’s economist used to measure class-wide impact and damages, but vacated the class certification order and remanded for further findings by the district court on the specific question of how many uninjured class members might be covered by the class definition. Hausfeld has asked the district court to make this finding based without further argument or briefing.
Defendant Chicken of the Sea and its parent, Thai Union Group have executed a settlement agreement with the class of direct purchasers, and a motion for preliminary approval is pending.
Meanwhile, summary judgments and Daubert motions have been fully briefed before the trial court. No trial date has yet been set.
The multidistrict litigation is pending before the Honorable District Judge Janis L. Sammartino of the Southern District of California.