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Dairy industry stakeholders squaring off against each other in court


The Eastern District of California’s federal court is home to a lawsuit and countersuit between two companies working in dairy supply: Milk Moovement and Dairy LLC (which has rebranded as Ever.Ag). Texas-based Dairy LLC has accused Milk Moovement of misappropriating trade secrets, while Nova Scotia-based Milk Moovement has claimed that Dairy LLC’s “monopoly power” has caused substantial harm to the multibillion-dollar milk market.

Partly redacted copies of legal filings related to the case were provided to AGDAILY. The dispute — between Milk Moovement, a start-up company breaking into the software market for milk cooperatives and processors, and Dairy LLC, a company that provides software services for components of the dairy supply chain — has been in simmering since December 2021. Dairy LLC claimed in publicly available legal filings that it “has suffered and will continue to suffer substantial damages in an amount to be proven at trial” resulting from Milk Moovement’s interference.

As recently as September of last year, a judge with the Eastern District of California dismissed Milk Moovement’s allegation that Dairy LLC filed suit only to harass the startup. The court decided that Dairy LLC’s trade-secrets lawsuit wasn’t “objectively baseless.”

But even though Milk Moovement couldn’t get Dairy LLC’s lawsuit against it thrown out, Milk Moovement is digging in its heels and claiming that Dairy LLC “engaged in substantial misconduct in order to unfairly stamp out would-be competitors from eating into Dairy LLC’s market share.” Moovement Milk has cited sections of both the Clayton Antitrust Act or 1914 and the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, two defining pieces of U.S. antitrust legislation.

According to a filing, Milk Moovement alleges: “As it continues to increase its stranglehold on the market, Dairy provides deficient services at supracompetitive prices. Then, when a new market entrant like Milk Moovement tries to break Dairy’s monopoly by offering a better service, Dairy intimidates its own customers by threatening action against them if they dare to defect. In the process, Dairy squashes these would be competitors before they can secure a foothold in the market, thereby unlawfully protecting Dairy’s monopoly.”

Milk Moovement seeks compensatory and punitive damages against Dairy LLC for the injury it alleges has been caused to Milk Moovement’s business.

The Eastern District of California is part of the U.S. Ninth Circuit, which is a popular destination for food- and agricultural-related lawsuits. The multi-billion court cases related to Bayer and glyphosate took place there, as have activist lawsuits related to crop protection products such as atrazine and sulfoxaflor and the dispute over Prop 12.

According to recent filings, these cases are scheduled for trial this year.

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