Wisconsin Legislature Disagrees With Attorney General in Dairy Antitrust Case

The Wisconsin Legislature filed a letter in an antitrust case against Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and Dean Foods Company on Monday saying they “strongly disagree” with a letter Wisconsin Attorney General Gwendolyn J. Cooley filed on behalf of the State of Wisconsin. The letter from the Legislature claims the attorney general misinterpreted Wisconsin law when he stated that the judgment in the case did not need approval from the legislature.

“When the Wisconsin Attorney General commences and carries out a civil action by choosing to file a civil complaint, as he has here, he must thereafter obtain legislative approval under Section 26 if he wishes to compromise that action, such as through a consent decree,” Misha Tseytlin, attorney for the Wisconsin legislature, said in the letter.

The legislature asked the court to stay the case until the Wisconsin Supreme Court rules on the Legislature’s petition on the matter, or allow them to submit an amicus brief in the case if the court cannot wait. “The Legislature believes that the Wisconsin Attorney General’s position here is so clearly foreclosed by the statutory text that this Court could reject that position by simply reviewing the legal arguments that the Legislature articulated in its Petition,” the letter states.

The state of Wisconsin was involved in filing the dairy antitrust case on May 1, along with Massachusetts and the United States of America. The complaint alleges that Dairy Farmers of America should not be allowed to acquire milk processing plants from recently bankrupt Dean Foods Company because it would consolidate milk markets in certain areas of the United States.

The Attorney General wrote a letter on June 17 giving notice to Judge Gary S. Feinerman who presides over the case that although Cooley entered the case on behalf of the state, Wisconsin law allows the legislature’s committee on joint finance to discontinue cases if an alternate plan is approved.

“This Proposed Final Judgment is not subject to committee approval under that statute,” Cooley states in the letter. “However, if members of the legislative joining committee on finance interpret the statute differently and object to this Proposed Final Judgment, they have an opportunity to comment.”