Kraft Foods Group, Inc. responded on Tuesday to the plaintiffs’ “seven-point notice plan” to notify members of the certified class in a case alleging the company manipulated the wheat market by requesting that language be changed to add the possibility of discovery and that the company’s name be taken out of the class action group’s web address. Kraft said the inclusion of its name on the proposed website “gratuitously prejudices Kraft.” The plaintiffs have proposed <kraftwheatfuturesclassaction.com>, while Kraft has proposed <wheatfuturesclassaction.com>.
The defendant asserted instead that it should be allowed to propose a generic website address, which would not suggest that Kraft participated in wheat futures manipulation as the plaintiffs claim. “This prejudice would be wide-ranging because Plaintiffs propose to use banner ads, linking to the class website, on the website for Stocks & Commodities magazine, to provide notice to potential class members. Accordingly, a significant number of non-class members will see the website and presume that Kraft has engaged in manipulation, resulting in detrimental effects across Kraft’s businesses,” the response alleged. The company said using “Kraft” on the website does not provide a benefit to the class members because the information is in the class notice.
Kraft, and its associated snack food company Mondelez Global LLC, also claimed that specific language in the class notice needs to be altered and that the opt-out protocol should be altered to allow more time to opt-out and allow members to opt-out by email or on the website. The Illinois Northern District certified the class of traders on January 3.
Kraft asked that the court use its language in the section discussing document preservation. “Plaintiffs’ proposal is needlessly equivocal with regard to preservation and may result in the destruction of records essential to class members’ claims and Kraft’s defenses,” the response argued.
The response said the class notice should include a sentence about the possibility of class member discovery to ensure class members have access to their trading records if it is needed in the case. Instead, the current language stated that members of the class “may be required to offset claims for money or benefits with any gains made on cash market transactions.” Kraft argued that notice of the possibility of being involved in discovery is “both accurate and fair.”
The company also discussed in its response the need to ensure damages are calculated considering the class’s losses and gains, stating that in its calculations five of the seven named plaintiffs either profited or had no losses as a result of inflation of the price of wheat.
Kraft is represented by Jenner & Block, while Lovell Stewart Halebian is lead counsel for the plaintiffs.