June 20, 2010

3 Min Read
Vermont Settles Vitamin Price-Fixing Lawsuit

The State of Vermont will receive over $60,000 under a settlement with an international group of vitamin manufacturers. Attorney General William H. Sorrell, along with 22 states and class action plaintiffs, alleged that vitamin manufacturers engaged in a price-fixing conspiracy contrary to state and federal antitrust laws. Under the agreement approved, the majority of Vermont’s share will go toward improving the nutrition and health of Vermont residents. The Vermont Foodbank will receive nearly $50,000 and the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation will receive $10,000 for the creation of a new multi-use trail in Sharon. The remaining funds, approximately $6,500, will go to the general fund for the State’s costs. A separate fund has been created to compensate affected businesses.

“Vitamin manufacturers worked together to make consumers and businesses pay more than they should have,” Attorney General Sorrell said. “Price-fixing among competitors is not only unfair; it’s illegal and intolerable, especially where consumers’ health is involved.”

Because of the extraordinary number of affected individuals and the difficulty in determining how much each consumer over-paid, the court approved distribution of the settlement funds to certain not-for-profit and governmental organizations “with the express purpose of ensuring that the funds be used for the improvement of the health and/or nutrition of the citizens” of each state. The Vermont Foodbank has pledged to use its share to strengthen its statewide food distribution efforts while the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation will use its portion to help sponsor the creation of a new trail designed to encourage physical activity and promote healthy living at the SharonElementary School and surrounding areas. Vermont recently received national recognition for its trail-work though an “Outstanding Trail Program” award by the Washington D.C.-based Coalition for Recreational Trails.

Businesses in Vermont that purchased any of the vitamins listed below between 1988 and 2000 may make a claim to the settlement administrator to obtain money from the commercial portion of the settlement. More information about making a commercial claim under the settlement is available here.

The vitamins affected by the alleged price fixing conspiracy include: vitamin A, astaxanthin, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B4 (choline chloride), vitamin B5 (calpan), vitamin B6, vitamin B9 (folic acid), vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamine pharma), beta-carotene, vitamin C, canthaxanthin, vitamin E, and vitamin H (biotin), as well as all blends and forms of these vitamins.

The companies subject to this settlement are: Akzo Nobel Inc.; Bioproducts Incorporated, Mitsui & Co., Ltd. and Mitsui & Co. (U.S.A.), Inc.; Chinook Global Limited and Chinook Group, Inc.; Evonik Degussa GmbH, successor to Degussa AG, and Evonik Degussa Corporation; Lonza AG; Merck KGaA, E. Merck and EM Industries, Inc.; Nepera, Inc.; Sumitomo Chemical America, Inc. and Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd.; Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation and Tanabe U.S.A., Inc.; UCB Pharma, Inc.; and Vertellus Specialties Inc. and Vertellus Chemicals SA.

More information about the Attorney General’s plan to distribute Vermont’s share of the settlement is available here.

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