$55M Class Settlement for DeLaval VMS Robot Receives Preliminary Approval

04.18.2022

On April 14, 2022, Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP, Cullenberg & Tensen PLLC, and Perrone Law PLLC secured preliminary approval of a $55 million settlement with DeLaval Inc., a key player operating in the global agricultural robot market. The class action lawsuit against DeLaval regarding the Classic model of its voluntary milking system (“VMS”) was filed on behalf of VMS dairy farmers.

If U.S. District Court Judge Stephen R. Bough of the Western District of Missouri grants approval following the hearing set for July 2022, the proposed settlement will provide substantial monetary relief to dairy farmers who used DeLaval’s VMS robots and experienced serious operational problems. On the court’s settlement approval, firm partner Patrick Stueve said:

“We are pleased that the Court has preliminarily approved this historic nationwide settlement that provides much needed relief for dairy farmers who purchased the DeLaval VMS Classic robotic milker.”

Originally filed in November 2019, the lawsuit alleged DeLaval’s systems were defective and failed to perform as represented and advertised in the company’s marketing. More specifically, the class action alleged that the VMS Classic did not meet industry standard, that they had serious design defects, and that DeLaval fraudulently misrepresented and concealed these issues.

DeLaval responded by denying the allegations and vigorously defending the case. DeLaval initially moved to dismiss the case; however, in early 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri ruled that the VMS dairy farmers had a case. In his Order, Judge Bough rejected DeLaval’s request to prematurely preclude the case from moving forward as a class action and concluded the farmers had both adequately stated claims for relief in tort and warranty and raised arguments that would preclude enforcement limitations written into purchase agreements if successful on the merits.

From there, DeLaval continued its vehement defense strategy, but after full discovery—including nearly 40 depositions and the production of millions of pages of documents—and extensive settlement negotiations, DeLaval agreed to a settlement of $55 million.

In addition to this litigation, the firms are pursuing similar claims in a lawsuit against Lely North America, Inc., the current agricultural robot market leader, related to its line of Astronaut robotic milkers. In late 2020 and early 2021, Judge Nancy E. Brasel, U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, largely denied Lely’s motions to dismiss, ruling in favor of the Astronaut 4 dairy farmers by permitting their claims for breaches of express and implied warranties, negligence, strict liability, and fraudulent concealment.

For more information, visit roboticmilkerfailure.com.

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