TAGS: class-action lawsuit against candymaker, candy price-fixing scheme, Hershey Co., Mars Inc., Nestlé, chocolate prices
HARRISBURG, PA -- A federal judge in Pennsylvania has dismissed a $727 million class-action lawsuit alleging the country's top three candymakers conspired in a price-fixing scheme.
U.S. Middle District Chief Judge Christopher Conner ruled on Feb. 27 that that the plaintiffs failed to prove illegal collusion by Hershey Co., Mars Inc. and Nestlé.
The lawsuit by 91 plaintiffs that purchased chocolate from Hershey, Mars and Nestlé charged that they violated federal antitrust laws by coordinating nearly identical price hikes in 2002, 2004 and 2007.
The chocolate companies said they arrived at their price increases independently based on increases in the cost of raw materials and manufacturing and distribution expenses. Judge Connor said in his ruling that cocoa prices did rise 53% from 2002 to 2007.