On Friday, Aurora Organic Dairy announced it had reached an agreement to settle all claims in the consolidated class action lawsuits pending before the U.S. Federal Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and the district court confirmed that Aurora’s milk was at all times properly labeled and sold as organic, and that Aurora’s milk has been certified as organic by a USDA-accredited certifying agent since 2004. As such, the only remaining action in this lawsuit, which was originally filed in 2007, concerned marketing claims made by Aurora and its customers.
While the courts confirmed Aurora’s organic certifications have always been valid and the company is confident it would prevail in trial on the remaining marketing claims, Aurora reached the settlement to avoid the cost and distraction of protracted litigation. According to the agreement, the company will pay a one-time amount of $7.5 million to cover all settlement class costs, including class claims, attorneys’ fees for up to 60 or more plaintiffs’ lawyers, and the costs of notice and administration. The company also will continue for three years certain existing farming practices at its Platteville, Colo., dairy.
The settlement agreement, which is subject to court approval, dismisses all claims brought against Aurora and its retail customers, and contains no admission of wrongdoing by any of the parties.
“Since our inception in 2004, Aurora Organic Dairy’s mission has been to provide American families with high-quality organic milk,” said Marc Peperzak, founder and CEO of Aurora Organic Dairy. “Without exception, we have always produced organic dairy products without chemical fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, antibiotics and artificial growth hormones according to USDA organic standards. Aurora’s products have been continuously certified as organic since 2004 with the USDA Organic Seal, the marketplace standard that American families rely on and trust.”