Tuna Price-Fixing Case May Regain Class Status

Consumers, wholesalers, and bulk buyers of canned tuna persuaded a federal appeals court in San Francisco on Tuesday, August 3, to consider restoring class status to their price-fixing lawsuit against StarKist—the only remaining defendant—after a three-judge panel decertified the antitrust class action in April.

The full US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated the panel’s decision and agreed to rehear the case, issuing a brief ruling that didn’t contain any reasoning. Eight judges didn’t participate in the vote, according to the order signed by Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas.

Related: 9th Circuit Decertifies Tuna Price-Fixing Classes

The lawsuits alleges that the three largest tuna companies conspired to keep the price of the staple of lunch boxes and pantries artificially high between at least November 2010 and December 2016.

IN 2019 Federal Judge Janis Sammartino approved three tracks for the suits to continue. One class is the “direct purchaser plaintiffs,” which includes warehouse and distribution companies like Olean Wholesale Grocery, Piggly Wiggly, and Benjamin Foods.

The second is the “commercial food preparer plaintiffs,” which includes eateries like Thyme Cafe & Market, A-1 Diner, and Groucho’s Deli of Five Points.

The third track is the “end payer plaintiff,” which represents individual consumers who bought tuna to eat. The class includes consumers in 30 states, Washington, DC, and Guam.

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SOURCEBloomberg