Agrium, Mosaic and PotashCorp have all announced settlements totaling USD $97.5 million for alleged antitrust activities in the U.S. during 2008. Agrium will pay the least of the three forwarding USD$10 million while Mosaic and PotashCorp will each pay USD $43.75 million to answer eight different complaints.
“These allegations are completely without merit and we deny all of the claims asserted in the lawsuit,” said Bill Doyle, President and CEO for PotashCorp.
These payments will absolve the three Canadian companies from any liability in connection with the allegations. According to a Mosaic press release, "The litigation has been pending in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois since 2008." Details are sketchy regarding the specifics of the allegations, and all three companies expressed their desire to settle out of court and save on legal expenses.
Each of the three companies have released statements regarding the matter and I have listed them below.
Agrium Inc. --
Calgary, Alberta -- Agrium Inc. (TSX and NYSE: AGU) today announced that it has tentatively settled all claims brought by a purported class of direct and indirect purchaser plaintiffs who alleged that Agrium’s and other defendants’ pricing of potash violated United States antitrust laws. The settlement is subject to court approval.
Agrium and the other defendants deny all allegations of wrongdoing, liability, or damage to any of the plaintiffs or putative classes in the action, deny that they engaged in any violation of law or breach of duty, and believe they acted properly at all times. This settlement avoids legal costs and the distractions associated with protracted litigation. Agrium will pay a total of USD$10-million to settle the claims and will thereby be released from any liability in connection with those claims
Mosaic Company --
PLYMOUTH, Minn., Jan. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ --The Mosaic Company (NYSE: MOS) today announced that it has agreed to settle previously reported potash antitrust litigation. The litigation has been pending in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois since 2008. Mosaic will pay $43.75 million to settle all claims with both putative classes. Mosaic chose to settle these claims to avoid the significant costs, burden, and distraction of protracted litigation.
Mosaic did not admit any wrongdoing and will be released from any liability in connection with the plaintiffs' claims. The settlement is subject to final court approval.
Potash Corporation --
Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. (PotashCorp) announced today that it and its wholly owned subsidiary PCS Sales (USA) Inc. have settled eight private antitrust lawsuits, which were filed by direct and indirect purchasers of potash in the United States in U.S. federal courts in 2008, for a total of $43.75 million. The settlements are subject to final approval of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. PotashCorp expressly denies any wrong-doing but decided to settle after weighing the multi-year financial cost and resources that would be required to defend these meritless allegations. The other potash producers who were defendants in these cases also have settled with the plaintiffs.
“These allegations are completely without merit and we deny all of the claims asserted in the lawsuit,” said Bill Doyle, President and CEO for PotashCorp. “The reality is that we weighed the multi-year effort in time and resources that would have been required to defend this lawsuit, and determined that our management should remain focused on the production of potash and serving our customers. This settlement serves as another example of the well documented abuse of class actions in the United States where self-interested plaintiffs’ attorneys enlist nominal plaintiffs – some of whom have served in that capacity in multiple class actions – to assert meritless claims in lawsuits where neither the plaintiffs’ lawyers nor their clients have anything to lose but in which defendants face the enormous burden, distraction and expense of litigation even though we did nothing wrong. This is simply a wasteful and unnecessary cost of doing business in the United States.”