Robotic Milker Litigation: $55 Million Class Settlement Secured for U.S. Dairy Farmers
On July 20, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri granted final approval of the $55 million settlement in SSH’s case against DeLaval for its defective VMS Classic.
After more than two years of litigating against DeLaval, including full discovery and full briefing on class certification, the parties agreed to a nationwide settlement making available financial compensation to approximately 185 farmers using nearly 600 robots. Given the size of the settlement and the relative size of the class, firm partner Patrick Stueve said:
“This is a historic nationwide class settlement that will, pending final approval, provide extraordinary financial relief to farmers who used the DeLaval VMS Classic.”
The reaction of farmers during the claims process confirms this: Nearly half of users have made claims for reimbursement of their purchase price and/or milk losses.
Preliminary claims analysis suggests that cash payments to some farmers will exceed $1 million. Most farmers are expected to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.
Though payouts will vary based on the number of robots purchased and documented milk losses, among other factors, the average payout per farmer who submitted a claim will likely fall between $350,000 and $450,000; and nearly 80 percent of claimants will receive more than $100,000. These figures are estimates as claims are currently be verified and processed. Final figures are expected to be available to class members soon.
Notably, Stueve Siegel Hanson is currently litigating two additional robotic milker cases on behalf of U.S. dairy farmers. One against DeLaval related to its second-generation VMS, the VMS V300, the other against Lely for its Lely Astronaut 4 (“A4”), which plaintiffs allege was defectively designed:
- DeLaval VMS V300 | The V300 case against DeLaval was recently filed in the Western District of Missouri 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.
- Lely Astronaut 4 ("A4") | The plaintiffs in the case against Lely allege product defect and fraud on behalf of purchasers of the Lely A4 robotic milker, which was sold in the US in 2011-2018. This putative class action is in the middle of fact discovery, which is set to close in October 2022. Stueve Siegel Hanson successfully defeated a motion to dismiss by Lely in February 2020, Lely has now substantially completed its document productions, and the parties recently began depositions. Per Court order, the case must be jury trial ready by August 2023.
If you or someone you know purchased a Lely A4 or a DeLaval V300, please contact our team for more information.