The sugar industry and makers of high-fructose corn syrup announced a mid-trial settlement on Nov. 20 in their $1.1 billion California federal court battle over whether corn syrup makers misled consumers by marketing and touting their product as a natural sugar equivalent. The details of the settlement agreement, including the amount, are confidential.
The settlement came as Western Sugar Cooperative, Michigan Sugar Co., C&H Sugar Co. and the other sugar Plaintiffs – who manufacture more than 70 percent of the nation’s sugar production – wound up their case in chief in the Lanham Act trial. The sugar companies filed suit against the Corn Refiners Association and its members in 2011, alleging they falsely marketed high-fructose corn syrup as “corn sugar” and a natural nutritional equivalent to sugar, resulting in market losses due to food and beverage manufacturers making the switch to using the corn-based sweetener in their products.
The corn syrup companies, which also include Tate & Lyle and Ingredion Inc., said their ad campaign made no false statements and they claimed that the sugar companies suffered no financial harm during the campaign. They filed a counterclaim that the sugar industry’s own alleged disparagement of high-fructose corn syrup since 2003 caused the corn syrup industry $530 million in losses. The sugar companies are represented by W. Mark Lanier, Eugene R. Egdorf, Lee A. Cirsch and Arthur Miller of The Lanier Law Firm PC and A. Howart Matz and Dorothy Wolpert of Bird Marella Boxer Wolpert Nessim Drooks Lincenberg & Rhow PC. It appears they did a very good job in this case.
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