Published online: Nov 03, 2010 Potato Harvesting, Seed Potatoes
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The United Potato Growers of America says it is confident the group will prevail in an expanding legal battle in which the co-operative and others are accused of engaging in "classic cartel behavior" to control potato supplies and fix prices at artificially high levels.

Since June, five separate civil lawsuits have been filed in U.S. district courts in California, Idaho and Wisconsin naming the Salt Lake City-based potato growers group, along with Dole Food Co. and other companies. The most recent lawsuit was filed late September in the District Court for Eastern Wisconsin.

Recently, the five cases were referred to the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, which decides whether civil lawsuits in different districts can be consolidated into one district. The panel's hearing was Sept. 30 in Nashville, Tenn., but as of Oct. 8, no decision had been announced.

United Potato Growers spokeswoman Barb Shelley said she didn't have a timetable for the announcement. The lawsuits' allegations against the growers, she said, are unfounded. "As we have stated previously, United Potato Growers of America is careful to ensure that we are in full compliance with the law," Shelley said Oct. 7. "We are confident that these cases are not well founded and that the defendants will prevail."