Another company files price-fixing suit against tuna companies

The three biggest canned and pouched tuna sellers in the United States are facing yet another lawsuit alleging price fixing, this time from a sandwich shop in Washington, D.C.

In the fifth such lawsuit to emerge in a month, Capitol Hill Supermarket, also listed in the suit as Capitol City Supermarket, is suing Bumble Bee Foods, StarKist and Tri-Union Seafoods in U.S. federal court. Tri-Union is the division of Thai Union Frozen Products (TUF) that distributes tuna in the United States under the brand name Chicken of the Sea.

The suit, which demands damages amounting to more than USD 5 million (EUR 4.4 million), is listed as a class action, and states Capitol Hill is suing “on behalf of all legal entities that indirectly purchased packaged seafood products for their own use in food preparation, rather than for resale, from one or more defendant or any predecessor, subsidiary, or affiliate thereof, at any time between July 24, 2011 and the present.”

Over the past month, four other parties have sued the same companies, also alleging price fixing – New York-based Olean Wholesale Grocery Cooperative, San Jose, Calif.-based Grocervice, Inc., otherwise knowns as PITCO foods, Affiliated Foods of Texas, and a consumer class-action suit brought on by Florida resident Beverly Youngblood. Like the other suits, Capitol Hill is arguing that all three tuna companies control a vast majority of the tuna market in the United States, and they conspired to take advantage of their “oligopolistic” position to maintain prices despite a decline in consumption.

“As a result of defendants’ unlawful conduct, plaintiff and other similarly situated members of the nationwide class who purchased (packaged tuna products) manufactured by defendants have been harmed by being forced to pay inflated, supra-competitive prices for such products,” the suit stated.


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