- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2003

From combined dispatches
Archer Daniels Midland Co., Cargill Inc. and another maker of corn sweeteners must face a trial over price-fixing claims, after the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday refused to throw out a $4 billion suit by food companies.
The suit says the producers colluded to fix the price of a corn sweetener used in soft drinks, candy and baked goods.
ADM and closely held Cargill are the two biggest rivals in the $3 billion U.S. market for the high-fructose corn syrup.
"Prices are still below the highs of the mid-1990s" because companies had too much production capacity in recent years, said Joshua Fenton, an analyst for Gabelli Asset Management Inc., which owns 6.7 million shares of ADM.
The justices, without comment yesterday, declined to hear arguments by Decatur, Ill.-based ADM, Cargill and A.E. Staley Manufacturing Co. that the food and beverage companies didn't provide enough evidence of a price-fixing conspiracy to go to trial.
Shares of ADM fell 31 cents to close at $10.83 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading yesterday.
The 1995 class-action suit was filed on behalf of several thousand food companies, such as Pepsico Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. The companies estimate they suffered $1.4 billion in damages and will ask a jury to triple that amount, said their attorney, Robert Kaplan.
The food makers say the corn-sweetener producers agreed in 1988 to raise prices. The suit claims the companies implemented the policy the following year and the conspiracy continued until the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided ADM in 1995 over the lysine price-fixing case.
The Supreme Court also refused, without comment, to consider reinstating New York laws that set standards for the labeling of kosher food.
The court could have used the appeals by New York and some Jewish leaders to give states guidance in regulating kosher food, without violating constitutional boundaries between church and state.
An appeals court struck down the state's laws last year.
Also yesterday, the court refused to be drawn into a property dispute over land chosen for the new headquarters of the New York Times.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide