Southeast Milk Litigation: All Payments to be Finalized in Fall of 2016

Sun Photo by Phil GentryFederal Court House

Sun Photo by Phil Gentry Federal Court House

(Greeneville, TN)  All payments to class members in the Southeast Milk Litigation (SEML) will be final this fall with the completion of up to two additional payments from different settlements in the historic Class Action.

One of those payments will complete the cycle of payments in the Dean Foods portion of the Settlement. Individual recipients should expect to receive an amount similar to the previous Dean payments.

“Almost unbelievably, there are some uncashed checks from previous payments which need to be cleared before those payments can be finalized,” says John Harrison, Class Representative for the plaintiffs.

“Those uncashed checks must be accounted for or reconciled before final payments can be made, since everything must zero out before final closure of the Settlement accounts.”

Letters, some containing reissued checks, have been sent to the owners-of-record of those uncashed checks, with a reminder that those checks must be deposited within 30 days  of check issue (approximately, by the third week of August).

ANY QUESTIONS?  Act Immediately!  If anyone believes that they fall into this category of ‘uncashed checks,’ or if anyone believes they are due a payment which they have not received in previous cycles, they are asked to immediately contact the Attorneys-of-Record of each of the Litigation subclasses as follows:

Independent producers, as well as all other producers belonging to co-ops other than DFA, should contact Baker-Hostetler, by phone at 202- 861-1500, or via mail at:

Southeast Milk Litigation

Baker & Hostetler LLP

Attn: Robert Abrams, Greg Commins, or Danyll Foix
1050 Connecticut Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20036


DFA producers should contact Brewer & Terry, by phone at 423-587-2730, or via mail at

     Southeast Milk Litigation

Brewer & Terry, P.C   Attn:  Steve Terry or Gary Brewer

1702 W. Andrew Johnson Hwy

Morristown, TN   37816

The Dean Foods Settlement, a total of $140 Million dollars to be paid over five scheduled payments, was final in June of 2012, with four of those payments already paid to class members.   This fall’s payment will be the last.

The second expected payment, much smaller, will reflect the final apportionment of the Dairy Farmers of America and Related Entities Settlement, which received final approval by the Court in May of 2013.  The initial $140 Million Settlement phase was paid out in one lump sum at the end of December, 2013, and was prorated to individual class members according to production in defined time frames. This fall’s payments will distribute any remaining funds.

All activity in this case was conducted following Federal Class Action laws and directives, and all procedures took place accordingly, under the supervision of the Court.  Judge Ronnie Greer presided over the case.

The amounts of the total Settlement in this case, which totaled in excess of $280 million dollars, set a record in the US Federal Court, Tennessee, Eastern District of Tennessee, and is one of the highest ever reached in dairy or food industry history in the United States.  Terms of each of the Settlements state  that none of the defendants admitted guilt.

For court documents and more information on the litigation, please refer to  In addition, various articles are posted at, or please google search “Southeast Milk Litigation.”

Dean Foods Payment #3 in SE Litigation – Motion Filed; Process Begins

Sun Photo by Phil Gentry Federal Court House

A motion has been filed by Plaintiff’s Attorneys with US District Court in Greeneville, TN to distribute Payment #3 in the Dean Foods Settlement of the Southeast Milk Litigation.  The motion, filed on July 24, includes some adjustments for previous payments, notes some requests for inclusion in the Settlement fund by a few latecomers, and the request of one party to be excluded for religious reasons. 


Judge Ronnie Greer, the presiding judge in the Class Action Litigation, must first review and approve the motion before the claims Administrator, Rust Consulting, can begin cutting and mailing checks to class members.


If this payment process follows the time standards established by previous payment schedules, producers should be able to expect checks in their mailboxes within a six-week time frame, by late August or early September, if not before.  The only hold-up to that time frame would occur if a class member engaged a third-party attorney for collection purposes, or if there are any unexpected legal challenges filed at this point.


$20 Million has been placed in an Escrow Account by Dean Foods per the payment schedule outlined in Settlement documents.  The net settlement fund, which will be distributed to producers, will be the remainder of what is left after approved payments to attorneys and various related administration costs are deducted. 


The total Dean Foods Settlement amounted to $140 Million dollars, of which $80 Million has already been distributed. This payment will bring that total to $100 Million, leaving $40 million to be distributed in increments of $20 Million each, in the years 2015 and 2016.


The monies will be distributed to over 6,000 approved class members, current and previous dairy farmers who operated in the Southeast United States in Federal Milk Market Orders 5 (Appalachian) and FMMO 7 (Southeast).  According to court documents, eligible producers would have been in operation in a time frame beginning Jan. 1, 2001 until the settlements claims deadline.


There is no need for producers to file or fill out any additional paperwork or claims forms at this time.


The amount of the payment a producer should expect in this payment cycle will be similar to, but likely not exactly equal, to the payment received last September from the 2nd Dean Foods Settlement Payment.


The Dean Foods Settlement, finalized in 2012, was combined with the Settlements of defendants Southern Marketing Agency and James Baird, and was the first of two settlements reached in this historic food industry class action litigation. 


Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. and several related defendants, settled in January of 2013, and producers received one-time settlement checks in December 2013 and January 2014 out of an initial $140 Million Settlement Fund.  There are two potential payments left per terms of the DFA Settlement, dependent on utilization figures in FMMOs 5 and 7 in designated time periods.  There will be an update on those payments in the near future.


Background and Additional information may be found at this website:

A copy of the 183-page motion may be found here.