Nationwide Settlement Reached with Lely in Robotic Milking System Class-Action
Note: This post was originally published on November 22, 2022 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
On September 1, 2023, the Court granted final approval of a nationwide settlement in the United States with Lely in litigation related to its robotic milking system, the Lely Astronaut A4 (“A4”).
Original post, published November 22, 2022:
Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP, Cullenberg & Tensen PLLC, and Perrone Law PLLC have reached a nationwide settlement in the United States with Lely in litigation related to its robotic milking system, the Lely Astronaut A4 (“A4”). The settlement establishes a cash fund of $49,750,000, an Additional Pinch Sleeve Payment Program, an Extended Warranty Program, and a New A5 Trade-In Program. Depending on the participation rates for the benefit options chosen by farmers, the total settlement value could be $105 million or higher. The settlement will provide substantial financial relief to a class of approximately 400 dairy farmers who purchased or leased new A4 robotic milkers, which were sold in the U.S. from 2011 to 2018.
The terms of the settlement were agreed upon after nearly three years of litigation. If preliminary approval is granted, class members will have the option to choose between two separate benefits: (1) a share from a cash fund established by Lely, with individual payout amounts varying based on the number of robots purchased, as well as an additional cash payment of $1,000 per A4 Robot under the Pinch Sleeve Payment Program and the choice between a four-year Extended Warranty or additional $7,000 cash per A4 Robot; or (2) the option to trade-in their A4 Robot(s) for Lely’s new Astronaut A5 robotic milking machine (“A5 Robot”) for a substantially reduced payment of $40,000.
“The considerable benefits secured through this settlement are tailored to address the central allegations of this litigation and achieve the primary relief sought by dairy farmers,” said co-lead counsel Patrick J. Stueve.
Originally filed in February 2020, the class-action case (Kruger et. al. v. Lely North America, Inc.) alleged that the A4 robotic milking system did not operate as represented, including that it did not offer the lowest cost of ownership, did not achieve the promised milk production, and suffered from defects that adversely affected cow health, milk production and quality.
“Our firms are pleased to secure the second nationwide class settlement related to robotic milking systems,” said co-lead counsel Arend Tensen. On July 20, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri granted final approval of the $55 million settlement in the firms’ case against DeLaval for its defective VMS Classic. Litigation against DeLaval related to its VMS V300 is ongoing in the District of Minnesota and concerns DeLaval’s “upgrade” to the VMS Classic, which was released in 2018 and allegedly suffered from many of the same defects as the VMS Classic.