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Attorney General Jason R. Ravnsborg

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Attorney General Mark Barnett Announces Settlement on Vitamins Litigation, $812,000 for South Dakota

Attorney General Mark Barnett Announces Settlement on Vitamins Litigation, $812,000 for South Dakota

(Pierre) – Attorney General Mark Barnett announced that the court has given preliminary approval of a partial settlement in the Vitamins Litigation lawsuit.  The lawsuit alleged violations of state and federal laws arising out of an international agreement to fix prices and allocate sales of vitamins and vitamin products.  Three European companies:  Hoffman-La Roche, Inc, BASF Corporation, and Aventis Animal Nutrition, S.A. (formerly Rhone Poulenc); and three Japanese companies:  Takeda Chemical Industries, Ltd., Eisai Co., Ltd., and Daiichi Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. agreed to the settlement.

Vitamins made by these companies go into a wide variety of products, including vitamin pills, milk, cereal, bread, and feed for animals.  Under the terms of the settlements, consumers and businesses in 21 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico will receive more than $225 million to compensate for higher prices they paid.  Of this amount $107 million is for distribution by the states to be used to improve the health and nutritional welfare of consumers in the states.

The next court date is scheduled for December 9th, 2001 in Meade County.  If no appeals are filed after this court date, the money will be available for distribution early to mid-2002.  The total amount allocated to South Dakota is approximately $812,000.  

The $812,000 represents only the consumer and state economic impact fund sections of the settlement.  If approved, the commercial side of the settlement, $107 million, will be put into a national pool from which South Dakota businesses can apply to collect their damages. 

Barnett said, “In the next 30 – 45 days my office will be putting together a broad proposal of how to distribute the funds, and the proposal will then be submitted to the court for approval.”  The funding of the proposal is tied to court approval of the lawsuit settlement terms.  “I would like to use the money to support nutritional needs for people of all ages, from kids to seniors.”  “I also plan to explore funding of several nutritional research projects, it would be nice to see some long term benefits come from this award settlement.”

The settlements of the suits must be approved by state courts in each of the states, including South Dakota, and by the court in the District of Columbia.  The settlement covers numerous pending private class action suits, along with suits brought by state Attorneys General on behalf of consumers and businesses within their states.  

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