Supreme Court Won’t Rescue StarKist from Lawsuit

Nov. 15, 2022
Company’s bid to decertify a class-action lawsuit over price-fixing allegations was denied.

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to step into a class-action certification dispute in a lawsuit involving buyers of StarKist tuna.

In a case with potentially far-reaching implications for class-action suits, the court turned away a bid by StarKist Co., owned by Dongwon Industries of South Korea, to decertify tuna buyers from a price-fixing lawsuit. StarKist is being accused of conspiring with competitors to set the price of canned tuna artificially high – a practice to which it has already pleaded guilty in an antitrust case brought by the U.S. Justice Department.

Private lawsuits were also brought against all the defendants in that case, including StarKist. The trial judge granted class-action status to three classes of plaintiffs: foodservice buyers, retail trade buyers and consumers.

An appeals court overruled the class-action certification, but the 9th Circuit reversed that ruling, saying that StarKist’s evidence that only a few class members were harmed was not sufficient to warrant decertification. The U.S. Supreme Court declined without comment to hear an appeal from that ruling.

The case was closely watched, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce weighing in in StarKist’s favor, arguing in a brief that too many judges are too quick to certify plaintiff classes in lawsuits against businesses.

About the Author

Pan Demetrakakes | Senior Editor

Pan has written about the food and beverage industry for more than 25 years. His areas of coverage have included formulations, processing, packaging, marketing and retailing. Pan worked for Food Processing Magazine for six years in the 1990s, where he was operations editor (his current role), touring dozens of food plants of every description. He has also worked for Packaging and Food & Beverage Packaging magazines, the latter as chief editor, during which he won three ASBPE awards. He is a graduate of Stanford University with a BA in communications.

Sponsored Recommendations

Troubleshoot: Grittiness in gluten free cookies

Learn how to adjust gluten free cookie recipes for a softer texture.

Clabber Girl: Rising Success

Uncover how Clabber Girl Corporation achieved a remarkable 7% growth and improved manufacturing efficiency by seamlessly integrating Vicinity's batch manufacturing solution with...

Intelligent Blends: Taking Technology to the Next Level

Find out how our friends at Intelligent Blends use VicinityFood and Microsoft Dynamics GP to produce the best coffee around.

Key ingredient: Mother Murphy's Laboratories

Flavorings manufacturer Mother Murphy’s Laboratories integrates front office with production facility — improving operations from initial order to final invoice.